LINCOLN, Neb. — In December, less than four months after Pinnacle Bank Arena opened, the arena’s operating budget was looking good: the arena had opened like a rock star, with a string of 10 big-name concerts that brought in over 100,000 people and generated $8 million in ticket sales.

The arena’s manager, Tom Lorenz of SMG, had told the mayor’s office the arena was making money. The arena enjoyed a grand honeymoon with concerts by Jay Z, Pink, Elton John, The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Michael Buble and John Mayer.

But just two months later, as the Husker basketball seasons heated up, the arena’s financial picture cooled considerably, and Lorenz delivered bad news to the mayor’s office: the arena would need a half-million-dollar subsidy to stay in the black by the end of the first year.