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La Crosse Center has 20 big meetings planned next year, construction or not

Brad Williams

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The prospect of construction during a planned La Crosse Center expansion is not discouraging meeting planners from scheduling conventions in the building over the next two years.

The La Crosse Center Board has been told that 20 conventions are confirmed for 2019 and two more still in the works.

That compares to this year’s 26 meetings and 24 conventions are already possible in 2020.

All this as the La Crosse Center deals with revamping its original $49 million expansion after Mayor Tim Kabat’s veto because, among other things, the plan extended too far into Riverside Park.

The Center’s new plan is now capped at $42 million, though that has the state asking questions. Gov. Scott Walker had announced a $5 million grant for the expansion. But, since its veto, that money has shrunk to $4.5 million and Center director Art Fahey says the state wants to see final plans for the building before committing grant funds to the expansion.

Among the groups said to be planning meetings at the La Crosse Center are an international jugglers association and an organization of maple syrup producers.

Center managers hope that the expansion plans, whenever they do begin, will bring them back up to at least 30 big meetings per year.

Some meeting planners reportedly are holding off on scheduling conventions in La Crosse until after the new parts of the building are ready.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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