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Ralston Arena

Ceco Building Systems

Construction undertaken by the City of Ralston, Nebraska, has resulted in a Cinderella story of sorts, only the glass slipper is a steel-and-glass multi-use arena.

An abandoned downtown golf course needed activity, and the Omaha suburb could stand an economic boost. In a short 15 months, with the partnership of Boyd Jones Construction, ICON Architectural Group and Ceco Building Systems, 170,000 square feet of glass and steel emerged. The beautiful state-of-the-art sports center is sure to draw crowds, commerce and entertainment for the citizens of Ralston and Omaha.

The city of Ralston has a population just over 6,000 and is situated on 1.6 square miles, surrounded on three sides by Omaha, the nation's 42nd largest city. Owned and operated by the City of Ralston, the new arena was built for multiple uses, mainly for sports. According to Ralston Mayor Donald Groesser, it features a 3,500-seat main arena (an adjacent smaller arena can seat 500 people) and is the new home to Tier 1 junior ice hockey team, the Omaha Lancers, a member of the West Division of the U.S. Hockey League. The arena is also home to the University of Nebraska at Omaha's men's basketball team.

"These teams used to play in Omaha and Council Bluffs in a 9,000-seat arena," Groesser said. "They would draw about 3,500 people, and the place was empty. Now we're able to provide a packed house for them."

With two sheets of ice and two more planned for later, Ralston Arena is also able to house Omaha youth and men's hockey leagues as well as local arena football and soccer teams. Perfect for hosting sports tournaments, the facility is also suited for other occasions, explained Groesser, including a weekend-long antiques show, as the ice can be covered. The front area of the arena can seat up to 400 people, making it ideal for wedding receptions and dinners. "Some acts like to play smaller venues," he commented. "Country music singer Rodney Atkins has already played here, and we're working on scheduling other acts."

The aesthetics of colors and glass come together in architectural details that give the arena a classy, contemporary look, with sidewalls tapering out at four degrees. While Ralston Arena isn't the only municipal events center with this type of architecture and this much steel, one unique aspect of this project was how quickly it was constructed.

A team effort was required by Boyd Jones Construction, the City of Ralston, Ceco and others, in order to accomplish the project in a fast-paced 15 months of construction, according to Mike Heser, vice president and project manager for Boyd Jones. One unique and challenging aspect of the project was the erection of the long clear spans that create an open venue for hockey, indoor football, the circus and other events.

Heser also explained that a pre-engineered metal building was chosen for quick construction and value. The low cost, he said, was the key factor in using metal. Ceco's insulated metal panels were used as interior walls of the arena, and because they are prefinished on both sides, they economically serve as the exterior walls also. The panels create a well-insulated building, increasing savings on labor and decreasing construction time.

The $32 million project comprised 170,000 square feet using 578 tons of primary structural steel, primed gray, 99 tons of cold formed primed gray, 84 tons B roof deck painted white on the inside, and 63 tons of insulated metal panels. Those panels are 2.5" thick with an R value of 19.2.

The main arena is enclosed with 25,400 square feet of Ceco's ESP panel on main arena in Koko Brown. The smaller arena and concessions area are surrounded by 15,600 square feet of Ceco's RWP panel in an attractive Light Stone. For architectural reasons, column frames tapered outward in lieu of a typical inward taper, explained Scott Fournier, principal structural engineer with ICON Architectural Group of Grand Forks, N.D. "What was unique was the overall size of the frames utilized for the main arena - 70-foot plus frame height at the high side, and a 180-foot frame span. We tied in conventional structural framing for the stadium seating."

And what do the people of Ralston and Omaha think of their striking new arena? They seemed to love it before it was even built. According to Mayor Groesser, of the 53% of registered voters who voted in the special election, 80% overwhelmingly voted for it.

"We've definitely had positive feedback," commented Emily Aveni, the arena's marketing coordinator. "The public has been able to watch the whole process. They've seen it come to life. Now they're seeing it in action."

Founded in 1924, Boyd Jones Construction has an established reputation for integrity, excellence and financial strength. The firm has provided design-build, construction management and general contracting services throughout the Midwest for 89 years, specializing in diversification and employing industry-leading experts focused on providing solutions. Their experience with multiple project types allows them to leverage best practices learned across many different industries to add value to all of their clients.

ICON Architectural Group was formed in 2001 and has established itself as one of the mainstay architectural firms in the upper Midwest. Specialty areas include architectural design, construction administration/management, engineering, feasibility studies, interior design and sustainable design.

About Ceco Building Systems

Ceco Building Systems designs and fabricates metal buildings. For more information, visit

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