Nebraska-Omaha’s Baxter Arena Slip Sliding Away

In a stunning new report, a geotechnical firm in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ferris Engineering Partners, has identified serious problems with the support piers for the new University of Nebraska-Omaha Baxter Arena.

The northwest corner of the 81 million dollar multipurpose facility has sunk 3.5 inches in the last year. The firm is predicting a doubling over each subsequent year. The risk longer term is a total collapse of the facility.

There has been a rapid draw-down of the Ogallala Aquifer over the past 100 years. Winterset limestone, prominent in the UNO survey area, shale and lime make up the primary bedrock in the area. Unfortunately, aquifer draw-downs, under the existing support piers, combined with surface moisture drainage, have eroded critical bedrock support from around the piers.

Eighteen inches of movement would put the total structure at risk. If not halted, Baxter Arena may be uninhabitable within the next 5 to 7 years.

Baxter Arena 3

Photo: Artist rendering of Baxter Arena consumed by the Ogallala Aquifer, assuming no effective mitigation can be put in place.

Ogallala Aquifer

Photo: A rapidly depleted Ogallala is impacting local area bedrock formations.

The only saving grace for the Maverick faithful? UNO’s hockey and basketball teams are unlikely to play in the arena again this season.

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