Posted By: Camila Orti
For the first time ever, the Pinnacle Bank Arena is filling with high school state basketball fans and athletes.
The NSAA State Basketball Championships kicked off Thursday morning, and will continue over the next two weekends.
First-timers at the Arena are taking it all in.
"It's a big wow factor, the lights, the gym, the floor, everything is just fabulous" Krista Bruns of Sidney said.
Bruns is one of several parents in Lincoln to support the Sidney Lady Raiders. Her daughter's game kicked off the tournament Thursday morning.
"The kids love it, they love to have the opportunity to play in a college big facility," Bruns said.
Even though they didn't win their game, the Sidney student-athletes are thankful for the experience.
"It was amazing, it's such a huge gym, it's an atmosphere we've never played in before," senior Abbi Porter said.
"It was just so big and beautiful," senior Katelin Cole added.
With dozens of new restaurants and shops to visit in the West Haymarket, there's plenty to do in between games.
"Our guests will be staying at new hotels, parking in new spaces and enjoying new amenities like the Railyard across the street," Mayor Chris Beutler said in a news conference.
All of that means big bucks for the Capital City. With the girls tournament this week and boys games kicking off next week, that's bringing in more than $5 million.
The state tournament will be held at the Arena (and other Lincoln facilities) for the next four years.