In January of 1998, the Holiday Inn Express was under construction at the corner of 2nd and Pearl, across the street from the La Crosse Center. The city board of public works was discussing plans to have skywalk connections for security reasons between the hotel, the parking ramp next door, and the civic center.
President Bill Clinton faced the Holiday Inn as he gave an outdoor speech on the La Crosse Center plaza that month, to a crowd estimated at 25,000 people. It was Clinton’s only public appearance in La Crosse during his two terms in the Oval Office. It came one day after his State of the Union address, and two days after he publicly denied having sexual relations with intern Monica Lewinsky. At least one local critic of Clinton claimed the La Crosse visit was a public relations gimmick, designed to get the president out of Washington as the scandal was breaking. But the Clinton trip had already been announced two weeks earlier, before the Lewinsky story made the news.
The Green Bay Packers were back in the Super Bowl for the second straight year…but 1998 was the only time the Pack ever lost a Super Bowl. Brett Favre and his team lost to the Denver Broncos, 31-to-24, in San Diego. Twenty-one years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.