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La Crosse Center design veto is WIZM’s #3 story of 2018



The future of the La Crosse Center was put on hold for a time during the past year.

The ongoing debate over what changes should be made to the civic center has been voted WIZM’s No. 3 story of 2018.

During the summer, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat vetoed a $49 million expansion plan based on its cost and on the proposed design, which would build an addition into Riverside Park.

“Once you put a building on top of Riverside Park, that’s the end of that space for generations,” Kabat had said.

Before the veto, Center Board president Brent Smith argued the building needed to be larger and more modern to compete with newer convention centers in the region.

“We’ve been told we couldn’t go up, we were told we didn’t want to go north,” Smith had said. “Where can you get square footage? And, square footage you can get going west. Plus the added benefit of using the park and using the river.”

The city council upheld the veto in July, forcing architects back to the drawing board to design a cheaper alternative, which stands now at $42 million.

Kabat believed at the time of his veto, that it would not kill the renovation project.

“If the veto is sustained, and I definitely hope that it is, we don’t have to go back to square one,” Kabat said. “We still have a considerable amount of groundwork that has been laid.”

Two new additions have been proposed, and the Center Board could endorse one of the options next week.

Smith says the board still hopes to break ground for an addition in 2019, with the remodeled La Crosse Center ready to book larger meetings by 2021.

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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1 Comment

  1. Trish Downs

    December 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Just look at how beautiful it would have been! But we could never hope for anything that awesome because the mayor is influenced by first floor city hall employees-you know the ones-the ones that think they run this city!! unfortunately it seems like they do and the only way to change this is to change some of the power players at city hall-starting with the mayor!

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