City Agrees To Let MECA Manage Riverfront Parks Project

The City of Omaha says MECA will manage the development of the Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing under a proposed agreement announced on Friday. 

Under terms of the agreement MECA will handle the reconstruction of the three parks and then continue to manage and maintain the properties once the project concludes in 2021.  MECA, which already operates CHI Health Center Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park,  would oversee scheduling and management of events at the parks in the future. 

The City of Omaha and the Downtown Riverfront Trust will each contribute $3 million annually for ten-years to a fund managed by MECA for operation, maintenance and activation costs.  The money in the fund will accumulate over ten years for future park expenses.  The fund would be separate from MECA's budgets for the arena and ballpark.

The city will contribute $50 million for construction in each of the next three years. Those monies will be incrementally paid at the rate of $15 million in 2019; $15 million in 2020 and $20 million in 2021, allocated in the Capital Improvement Plan.

"MECA has an established history of working with the City of Omaha and philanthropic leaders on major construction projects," says Mayor Jean Stothert.   "This agreement provides management of the park during construction and the important long-term activation to provide the entertainment and leisure activities that will make these parks a destination for Omaha residents and visitors."

The riverfront redevelopment project will begin in March, 2019, and is expected to take four years to complete.  The Omaha City Council and the MECA Board of Directors both must approve the tentative agreement.

Highlights of the redevelopment plan will include:

  • Raising the Gene Leahy Mall to street level, and provide a "great lawn' for performances and events.  Plans include a dog park, sculpture garden, children's playground and a restaurant.
  • A new amphitheater, botanical garden and rollerblading/ice skating ribbon at Heartland of America Park
  • A playground/sports court complex at Lewis and Clark landing 
  • An elevated promenade along the Missouri River from Heartland of America Park to the Breakers for biking, walking and jogging. 

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