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La Crosse Center board president defends process for planning expansion



They’re not just making changes to please convention planners.

That’s how the president of the La Crosse Center Board, Brent Smith, responds to claims that promoters of conventions and trade shows have been left out of planning for a $42 million expansion.

Smith says the latest remodeling plan going to the city council next month would reduce the size of the North Hall meeting room by 4000 square feet.

Shamrock Productions of Minnesota, which brought its annual boat show to the center last month, says losing that much exhibit space could violate the firm’s contract with the city, and cost the center some big events.

Shamrock argues that the look of the civic center, with possible additions of an atrium and a rooftop terrace, is not as important as providing sufficient space for meetings and events.

But Smith says the board believes the physical image of the building is very important to attracting business.

Smith says compromises on the size of North Hall and other parts of the design were needed to keep the project cost under the city-imposed limit.

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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