New mid-sized concert venue making progress in downtown Omaha

Omaha’s music scene is preparing to get a boost, and hopefully welcome even more musical talent to the city.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2022 at 9:24 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha’s music scene is preparing to get a boost, and hopefully welcome even more musical talent to the city.

Steelhouse Omaha on the corner of 11th and Dodge streets in the heart of downtown is taking shape, and is on track to open on May 12, 2023.

“There’s nothing else like it in our city,” says Joan Squires, the president of Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa).

Steelhouse will be the third venue on O-pa’s lineup behind the Orpheum Theatre and the Holland Performing Arts Center. It will hold anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people.

“Steelhouse Omaha is really attracting bands that have been skipping our city because they don’t have venues of the right size,” Squires adds.

“As a musician myself, it’s fun to see the stage come together and the seating, it’s being done really well, not a bad seat in the house,” says Omaha city councilmember Pete Festersen.

Festersen toured the in-progress building this week and says the location will offer a perfect middle ground between places like The Slowdown and the CHI Health Center.

“This will bring a niche of shows that we aren’t currently getting in the 3,000-attendee range, so we have lots of smaller venues around town that are doing great and bring great shows, but this will bring a segment of attendees and excitement of shows and artists we aren’t currently getting that are well known but maybe aren’t playing arenas yet, it’ll be a great place to see a show in kind of an intimate fashion,” he says.

Squires agrees.

“We have wonderful colleagues doing great work in smaller venues, [Steelhouse] is designed for a very different type of tour and will complement what’s already going on.”

Squire adds that Steelhouse will differ from The Orpheum and The Holland Center by hosting genres like pop, rap, and rock.

“Steelhouse is the perfect compliment to the Orpheum and the Holland,” Squires says. “The Orpheum is our theatre that hosts broadway, opera, theatrical events, and some large shows, and the Holland is our acoustical environment for the Omaha Symphony, jazz, speakers, and more, and we have a small club. So, between those two buildings, adding Steelhouse really gives us a wonderful array of all types of performances and artists that can come to our city”

There’s another goal for the new venue too: attracting young people, specifically those between 18 and 45.

“We think this is an important demographic as we look to increase our workforce, attract businesses here, people are looking for things to do and we think Steelhouse, not just the bands inside, but the entire venue is going to be an experience that will really help this city attract this age.”

The venue is slated to open May 12, and O-pa says they’re aiming to host 90-100 events each year.

“Really easy access for musicians for the load in-load out folks as well, so I know the artists will appreciate it too, so I think it’ll be a win-win for everybody,” Festersen adds.

The $104 million building was funded almost entirely by philanthropic dollars, with the City of Omaha contributing $1 million.

You can follow Steelhouse’s progress and updates on Facebook.