The Omaha entertainment landscape will change dramatically in 2023. Major openings include the first casino in Omaha, the city’s first science center, and a state-of-the-art new music venue. The RiverFront’s highly-anticipated reopenings of Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing also promise exciting, ew recreational options.
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Where: Between Dodge Street and Capitol Avenue from 11th to 12th streets
The city’s newest live music venue, Steelhouse Omaha, has a planned opening of May 12, 2023. As Omaha Performing Arts’ biggest expansion since the opening of the Holland Performing Arts Center, the Steelhouse Omaha will accommodate audiences of 1,500 to 3,000.
What’s interesting is that O-Pa is partnering with Live Nation as the exclusive promoter of the venue, so I imagine some great acts will be booked there. The target audience for these shows will be between 18 to 45 years old.
Opening weekend activities will be announced closer to the date.
Where: Lewis & Clark Landing
Omaha has never had a full-fledged science center for all ages, and Kiewit Luminarium is going to fill that void with hands-on exhibits. Its planned opening is Spring 2023.
Kiewit Luminarium is described as designed to inspire “lifelong interest and careers in science, technology, and engineering, and opens doors for anyone and everyone to play, to wonder, to consider something new.” The concept for the place is modeled off of San Francisco’s Exploratorium.
Volunteers and employees with the Luminarium have been at various community events in the past year and my son and I got a taste of some of their activities while at Maha Festival. I’m excited for this one to open!
Lewis & Clark Landing Reopening
Where: Along the west side of the Missouri River
The Illuminarium isn’ the only thing opening in that area in 2023. Since 2020, the Lewis & Clark Landing — located along the Missouri River just east of the CHI Health Center Omaha arena — has been under extensive renovation as part of The RiverFront development. Among the new features will be expansive green space, a prairie garden, a sandy urban beach with fire pits, volleyball courts and a destination playground.
I’ve been impressed with the first stage of The RiverFront, Gene Leahy Mall’s renovation, so I cannot wait to see the result of this update.
Heartland of America Park Reopening
Where: Along the west side of the Missouri River, just south of Lewis & Clark Landing
The RiverFront development has one more planned reopening in 2023: Heartland of America Park. The park was once a part of the Con Agra campus and had a paved trail around a man-made lake with a fountain in the center. It was full of potential after Con Agra left town, so I’m glad it’s been included in the expansive downtown updates.
Construction started in 2019, and the planned park’s features will include a Skate Ribbon that will be used for ice skating in the winter and roller skating the rest of the year; a lakeside amphitheater; and bocce courts. They’re also constructing the Farnam Pier, which. The lake and fountain will remain.
it’s unclear when in 2023 it will reopen.
WarHorse Casino Omaha
Where: 6303 Q St.
Nebraska outlawed casinos for decades, but in November 2020, voters decided the state was was ready for it. The first casino to open in Omaha will be the $200 million WarHorse Casino at Horsemen’s Park. It’s slated to open in phases starting August 2023 with about 800 slot machines.
It will be a full-scale casino sometime in 2024 or 2025 when it’s completed, and will have 1,200 slot machines, table games and a sportsbook. The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association partnered for this endeavor, and Tribe’s WarHorse Gaming LLC will manage operations.
A peek into Omaha 2024
One exciting project that’s been a bit delayed is the opening of the Nebraska’s first Smash Park. It is now scheduled to open in LaVista in 2024. Smash Park is a mix of food, drinks & recreation, with its flagship activity being pickleball.
The 30,000-square-foot indoor space will have axe throwing, duckpin bowling and a private karaoke “Sing Suite,” and its outdoor space will include features like shuffleboard, bocce ball, and yard games. Smash Park is based out of West Des Moines.
Joslyn Art Museum is expected to reopen in 2024, after closing for nearly two years due to renovations and an expansion. The highlight of the project is going to be the 42,000-square-foot Rhonda and Howard Hawks Pavilion, which will have new galleries, public spaces, office space, and classrooms. According to the museum: “In the new gallery spaces, the public will have unprecedented access to works from the nationally-renowned Phillip G. Schrager Collection of Contemporary Art. The Museum received a transformative gift of over fifty works from that collection, instantly propelling Joslyn to a new position on the international museum stage and greatly expanding the range of twentieth-century artists represented in its collection.”
The project also includes a redesign of more than 3 acres of public gardens and outdoor space.