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CURRENT ARTICLE
08/06/2014 - Pershing Had More Than 50 Years Worth of Memories For Many Lincolnites
 I couldn't tell you the exact first time I ever went to Pershing Auditorium, nowadays known as Pershing Center.

There are some memories as far back as 1980 or '81 of going to see Northeast play the other Lincoln schools for intra-city boys basketball games.  It was still in an era where any of the four public high schools at the time had a power struggle with one another.

As a 6th grader, I got to see the likes of the Ultimate Warrior, Dusty Rhodes, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase at a WWF (now WWE) wrestling show.  I saw many more wrestling cards at the longtime civic arena for Lincoln.

              
WCW's nationally televised "Thunder" show was at Pershing in June 2000. (Photo Courtesy of Pershing Center)

There were the rock concerts, too.  Saw a few 104-1 The Blaze anniversary shows in the old barn.  I even got to play basketball down there all four years of my high school career at Northeast.  I walked across the stage at Pershing to receive my high school diploma, just like the thousands of others before and after me.

Was Pershing Auditorium (sorry Pershing Center) out of date 20 years ago?  Certainly.  Was it a special place?  You bet.  One of Elvis Presley's last concerts was at Pershing on June 20, 1977, a little less than two months before he died.  KISS performed there in the '70s, along with many other historic rock bands and music groups the past 35 to 40  years.


    Elvis Presley - June 20, 1977

Elvis Presley performed at Pershing on June 20, 1977, just two months before he died. (Photo courtesy of Pershing Center)
                     

State High School Basketball tournaments were a longtime attraction at Pershing.  The last portion of the tournament to ever be played there happened in mid-March 2013.  Last season, the Bob Devaney Sports Center (once the main stage for state basketball) became second banana for the tournament, with the championships now being played at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nostalgia likely kept Pershing afloat until May 2010, when a bond issue received overwhelming support to build a new civic arena in the West Haymarket.  Pershing's days were numbered.


Boys State Basketball Tournament 2009 (Courtesy of Pershing Center).

There was hope of perhaps trying to put it back on the city's tax rolls, but that would be too good to be true and plans to transform Pershing into the new main branch of the city's library system fell through.

Nevermore, will we ever drive by Centennial Mall and "N" Street and look at the marquee to see the next show or flea market coming to Pershing.   The famed mosaic mural on the west entrance into the building will be gone, too.  Hopefully, someone has enough dough to buy it and put it someplace nice.

Let's not forget the state-of-the-art facility in Pinnacle Bank Arena.  It's building a new tradition to be Pershing's successor.   Look at all of the concerts and other events it's attracted in one year alone.  

Yes, people like me who are not Nebraska basketball boosters, won't always go there to cheer the Big Red.  I'll still go for other sporting events like state basketball, or concerts.  Last month, I purchased my WWE Smackdown tickets for the Sept. 2 show at PBA.

Pershing Auditorium will forever be part of Lincoln's history.  Thanks for all the great memories!  
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