Lincoln at a Glance
Location: Southeast Nebraska
Access: Lincoln Airport, Omaha Eppley Airport, Interstate 80
Hotel Rooms: 5,200
Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau
Lancaster Event Center
Built: 2000, expanded several times since
Exhibit Space: 400,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: Three breakout rooms
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Exhibit Space: 30,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 11 event rooms
The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel
Guest Rooms: 300
Meeting Space: 47,000 square feet
Embassy Suites Lincoln
Guest Rooms: 252
Meeting Space: 20,000 square feet
Graduate Lincoln Hotel
Guest Rooms: 231
Meeting Space: 15,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Lincoln
National High School Athletic Coaches Association
American Forensic Association
Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln exudes a young and energetic vibe that radiates from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus to downtown and the Historic Haymarket district. Husker mania prevails during football season, and the arts, sports and culinary scenes thrive year-round.
Your attendees can watch world-class entertainment at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, tour Memorial Stadium for an insider’s view of Husker athletics or bike the extensive city trail system. Flourishing craft beer and farm-to-table establishments highlight the state’s agricultural roots. Perhaps most memorable, your attendees will be welcomed with friendly Midwestern hospitality.
One of the Midwest’s most affordable and accessible cities, Lincoln lies less than a day’s drive from Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver, and St. Louis. Safe and walkable, downtown is adjacent to campus. Big city amenities abound, as do first-rate hotels and meeting spaces.
“Almost any night of the week, there’s a live music option within walking distance of our downtown hotels,” said Derek Feyerherm, senior director for the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Lied Center brings in Broadway shows, national tours of comedians and music, and some locals acts, too. It’s between downtown and the university, with the Embassy Suites and the Kindler Hotel just across the street.”
On campus, the Sheldon Museum of Art houses a significant contemporary collection. Morrill Hall’s top-notch natural science collection showcases prehistoric mammoth skeletons, as well as the Mueller Planetarium. At Memorial Stadium, named in honor of World War I veterans who attended the university, tours of the new football training facility include a half-acre training room and a chance to step out onto the turf. Slated for completion in 2021, a walkway dedicated to veterans will lead to the new facility.
“Having a flagship university in downtown creates so much energy and synergy in the music, shopping and arts scene, and we still have a small-town feeling here,” said Feyerherm.
In Historic Haymarket, venues include Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Railyard and Canopy Street. Sporting events, concerts and performances fill the calendar, especially on weekends. Saturday mornings in spring and summer, vendors at the Haymarket Farmers’ Market sell food, produce, crafts and more.
Lincoln’s newest downtown property, the Kindler Hotel, is one block from UNL’s campus and within walking distance of downtown hotels. This 49-room boutique hotel opened in August 2019 as a marriage of two historic buildings. The ballroom, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and original Art Deco moldings, holds 180 guests. A 14-seat executive boardroom lends itself to strategic workshops and retreats.
More than 100 years ago, the Scottish Rite opened its Masonic Center in the shadow of the Nebraska State Capitol. Today, this ornate Neoclassical Revival temple has been revamped for meetings with a full kitchen and buffet area. Numerous spaces include the ballroom, with capacity for up to 300, and the Lodge Room, for 200 people.
In addition to renovated historic buildings, new venues include the Capital Cigar Lounge. Opened in early 2019, it contains a variety of event spaces, including a boardroom and lounge for more relaxed meetings. For those hesitant about the smell of cigar smoke, a state-of-the-art Trane HVAC system ensures that clean air is pumped in while existing air is filtered out.
Sports enthusiasts can take in baseball when the Lincoln Saltdogs play at Haymarket Park. Sections of the stadium can be rented for groups with various food and beverage options. At the Ice Box arena, where the U.S. Hockey League Lincoln Stars play, groups can opt for traditional seating or reserve smaller suites for games and meetings. Catering ranges from concession-style options to steak dinners.
Major Meeting Spaces
The Lancaster Event Center, roughly 15 minutes from downtown, provides 400,000 square feet of flexible space throughout five interconnected buildings. Each building averages 80,000 square feet, and interior walkways provide access during inclement weather. All offer full catering. Feyerherm said that five events can take place simultaneously, or the center can easily host one large expo.
At Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown’s West Haymarket development, groups can take advantage of several nontraditional event spaces. The major tenant of this 15,500-seat venue is the UNL Huskers men’s and women’s basketball programs. When games aren’t scheduled, the arena floor can be reserved for 30,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 2,300-person reception, a 1,000-person banquet or theater for 3,800 to 14,000.
“The arena staff can be very creative with how groups use the Pinnacle’s space and 11 event rooms,” said Feyerherm. “The club and luxury lounges on the suite levels are great for meetings, and the arena floor makes a unique spot for events.”
Modern amenities and Midwest charm intermingle at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel. Attendees can walk to downtown restaurants and attractions or take the complimentary shuttle up to a three-mile radius. The Cornhusker offers 40,406 square feet of flexible space, 29 event rooms and a maximum of 22 breakout rooms, plus on-site audiovisual services.
The 231-room Graduate Lincoln boasts a bold retro vibe and views of Memorial Stadium and the Capitol. Nostalgia rules at the tiki bar, and the second-floor patio features foosball, pingpong and a year-round pool. The 5,800-square-foot ballroom can host 450 people; partial room rentals accommodate 100 to 125 people.
After the Meeting
The expansion of the Historic Haymarket district around Pinnacle Bank Arena has created new retail and development. From the arena to bustling Canopy Street and the Railyard, the district offers restaurants and bars, boutiques and an ice skating rink during winter.
Serving some of the nation’s best beef and produce, the Lincoln culinary scene continues its farm-to-fork emphasis. In central Lincoln, standout Piedmont Bistro by Venue welcomes groups and focuses on a high-quality, locally sourced menu. Set amid pastoral views on certified-organic Lakehouse Farm, attendees can dine on best-of-season dishes at the Prairie Plate Restaurant, where everything is sourced on-site or from neighboring farms. Craft beer aficionados will want to dive into the annual Lincoln Beer Tour, held May 1 through December 31. A free passport booklet entitles participants to a complimentary pint at approximately 10 breweries.
Historic Robber’s Cave, south of downtown, offers 30- to 60-minute tours of a 5,000 square-foot maze of sandstone tunnels. Tours highlight its history and the variety of characters, such as Jesse James, believed to have hidden there. Afterward, nearby White Elm Brewing and Backswing Brewing offer craft tastings and tours.
For exercise before or after meetings, the community is connected by a well-defined, 131-mile trail system. Outside most downtown hotels, the bike-share program makes it easy to explore the city or head to its outskirts. Walkers will also appreciate the hard surface and crushed rock trails that weave through greenways, cityscapes and parks.