- Aaron S. Terry
Liberty First Credit Union Arena – Omaha Beef
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Liberty First Credit Union Arena 7300 Q St Ralston, NE 68127
Liberty First Credit Union Arena website
Year Opened: 2012
Liberty First Credit Union Arena, formerly known as Ralston Arena among other names, is located in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. The multipurpose venue hosts concerts and other events, as well as being home to the Omaha Lancers of the USHL (minor league hockey) and the Omaha Beef of the Champions Indoor Football League.
The Beef has been to the CIF championship game for two years running, and took home the title in 2021 – the team has a rabid following who look forward to another trophy. Affectionately known by Beef fans as The Slaughterhouse, Liberty First Arena offers a superb atmosphere for indoor football; read on to hear what makes it so great.
Food & Beverage 4
Liberty First Arena has a ton of concession options and with stands large and small all over the arena. Tacos, barbecue, and pizza are all available on one side of the arena with prices starting at $9, but if you walk around to the other side of the arena you can also find more budget-friendly $6 burgers and $5 hot dogs, plus similarly priced chicken tenders, soft pretzels, and other snacks. There are also a couple of smaller stands offering just beer, or beer and smaller snacks - beer starts at $6 while soda (either fountain or bottled) and bottled water can be found for $4.
The three best things about Beef football, besides the winning product on the field of late, are, in order, the killer logo (a wicked-looking steer skull outlined in orange, which sparks when shown on screen, reminiscent of a steer being branded), the great promotions and entertainment for the fans, and the range of great seating options.
Starting with the fan entertainment, the Beef has a cheerleading/dance team, and a great mascot named Sir Loin who interacts with fans throughout the game – Sir Loin rides into the stadium before the team takes the field in an Omaha Beef-deco Jeep, and revs up the crowd in the lead up to kickoff.
That same Jeep is used following the first quarter in a promotion where fans throw mini footballs from the stands onto the field, trying to get them through the windows of the Jeep, which is sitting at midfield – one lucky fan who manages to toss their ball through one of the windows wins a Beef prize pack. They do the promotion again during halftime as well, except with a trash can at midfield this time with fans throwing tennis balls.
Continuing with the fan entertainment, there is also a Beef-themed inflatable tunnel the team runs through when they take the field, and tchotchkes tossed to the crowd during breaks in the action. The staff also plays the ‘Chicken Dance’ at least once during the game, which kids and many adults love to dance along to.
The halftime shows are also well done – at the most recent game, I attended they did a tribute to the musical ‘Annie’, complete with staff members garbed as orphans, furiously sweeping and scrubbing the turf at midfield under the watchful eye of the crowd. And don’t forget the inflatable beach balls the crowd can bat around, and the ultimate staple of arena football, i.e. being allowed to keep the ball if you happen to catch it when it leaves the field.
In terms of seating options, you really can’t go wrong at Liberty First Arena – first of all the seats in the stands have chairbacks, and there are also tables with chairs at the top of the grandstand that fans can watch the game from, or use temporarily to eat their food, so they can avoid bumping elbows down below. There are also suites up on the main level if you want to pay a little more for tickets, and for a truly special experience, there are 2 field-level Super Club suites where you can eat free popcorn, order other concessions and have them brought to you.
Liberty First Arena is located in Ralston, a suburb of Omaha, which is a decent-sized city with plenty of attractions, hotels, and restaurants. The city and region are known for their pioneer heritage – Omaha is located just across the Missouri River from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Creighton University is not far from the arena, and the birthplace of President Gerald R. Ford is also nearby.
If you plan to fly in for the game, Omaha has what I consider to be the perfect-sized airport – large enough to have flights coming in from many destinations, but small enough that the rental cars are located on-site, so you don’t have to ride a shuttle bus to some distant garage before getting on your way.
Note that some of the closest hotels and gas stations to the airport are located in Carter Lake, Iowa, due to the Missouri River (which is technically the eastern border between the 2 states) changing locations over a century ago, followed by a Supreme Court ruling stating that the original border still stands.
To join the Beef after party, be sure to check out Therapy Bar & Grill after every Beef game – Therapy is located at 5059 S 108th St (between O Street and Q Street), and offers drink specials, karaoke, and dancing. The same DJ from the Beef game is on hand running the music. Therapy is located a couple of miles from Credit First Arena.
Beef football has some amazing fans – while they may not fill the stands, they are loud and proud of their team, some of them almost to (and some past) the point of raucousness, which I consider a good thing when it comes to sports fans. A huge percentage of them show up in Beef team gear, and the team store does some pretty hefty traffic as well before and during the game. You will hear the fans getting loud throughout the game – they are constantly on their feet, ringing their cowbells enthusiastically during big moments in the contest.
Access to Liberty First Arena couldn’t be better – there is free parking right outside the arena, and there are plenty of different entrances, making it easy to get in and out. There is plenty of room to walk around the concourse, and there are elevators open to take fans to all levels if needed. Concession lines are short, and there are more than enough bathrooms to accommodate the crowd size. There are also plenty of staffers on hand to help you find your way if you happen to need help.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to Beef football start at $20, which is a great price for pro sports, and they can be purchased directly from the Liberty First Arena box office, so you don’t have to worry about those pesky Ticketmaster fees. And, if you’re a technophobe like me, you can even get printed tickets at Will Call, if you would like that type of souvenir to take home. Of course, you can also opt for digital tickets instead, either print-at-home or mobile, if you prefer that route.
Besides the stellar logo, which I can’t say enough about – be sure to pick up a Beef t-shirt or hat to take home so you can show it off – and the great crowd, which is loud and brings the energy, Liberty First Arena offers so many other extras during Beef football. The DJ does a great job with the music, and besides the female cheerleaders/dance team, the Beef also has a male dance team called the Rump Roasters, who join in keeping the crowd riled up.
Another great plus is that after the game, fans are allowed onto the turf for about 15 minutes to meet the players and get autographs, as well as meet the cheerleaders and other staff, and toss footballs around and/or run around on the turf – this is a great bonus which not a lot of other teams offer. The Beef also has its chain gang dressed in red karate kid outfits with black hachimakis (headbands), as a nod to one of its sponsors, Black Belt Movers.
If you have never seen arena football, I recommend it – the faster pace and shorter field make for a lot of excitement, and the Omaha Beef does it superbly. The staff puts on an amazing show, the facility is awesome, and the team itself is on a roll. If there is any possible way you can make it out to Nebraska for a game, you should take advantage of the opportunity. Let’s go, Beef!