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Huskers' new arena could provide a big home-court advantage with steep seating configuration

The scoreboard has been hung and most of the red cloth seats have been anchored at the new arena that will be the home for Nebraska basketball.

With construction 85 percent to 90 percent complete, the project manager said Friday that Pinnacle Bank Arena is on schedule to be ready for the university's August graduation ceremony.

The $179 million arena, with a seating capacity of about 15,500, sits on the northwest side of downtown Lincoln looking like a big silver space saucer just a few blocks west of Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska already has sold every ticket for the 2013-14 men's basketball season, and a media tour revealed a steep seating configuration that could make for an intimidating home-court advantage.

"It's right on top of the court, so it'll be a great building for basketball," said John Hinshaw, project manager for Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Co.

About half of the seats are in the lower bowl, with a portion of them retractable to make room for convention space or other sporting events. The floor is equipped for ice equipment, meaning the arena could be used for ice hockey if Nebraska chooses to add the sport someday.

The main entrance was specifically designed to offer a view of the State Capitol rising to the southeast. There also is an outdoor deck that will be open during warm weather.

A total of 36 suites ring the arena, each equipped with three rows of four seats, a drink rail, wet bar, cook top and television. There also are 20 mini suites with seating for four. The seats in the arena are 20 inches wide. Unlike the old Devaney Sports Center, which had bench seats in the upper levels, every seat has a back at the new arena.

Hinshaw said the Panasonic high-definition center-hung scoreboard will be one of the finest in college sports and better than in most in NBA arenas. The four-sided scoreboard is 16 1/2 feet tall and 22 feet wide and is topped by another full video board that is 6 feet tall and 22 feet wide.

There were no obstacles in construction other than a problem with improperly bent rebar that caused a delay of about a month in late 2011. The project still will be completed about a month sooner than first projected.

Mortenson Co. also built the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., Coors Field in Denver and the Target Center and Target Field in Minneapolis. The company also won the contract to build the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.