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Everybody gives, and gets a little in La Crosse Center expansion




It took longer than expected, and it certainly wasn’t easy. But the heavy lifting has now been done to pave the way for an expansion of the La Crosse Center. More than five years after talks first began, the La Crosse City Council has approved a hike in the city’s room tax to pay for the $42 million project. Our city leaders deserve credit for getting this done. The expansion plan had to survive a mayoral veto of the initial design plans, which were deemed ugly and an intrusion of Riverside Park. They listened to objections, and went back to the drawing board. Some promoters who do business with the Center objected to a reduction in space in North Hall, but that space was ultimately preserved in the redesigned plans. There are concerns the room tax increase would have been too high, driving potential customers away, so the Mayor backed of on his plan to adopt the highest room tax in the state. The Convention Visitor Bureau will take a smaller cut of the room tax money so it too has skin in the game. And even if Onalaska and La Crosse County don’t pitch in to the project, there is still enough money to pay for the renovation. This took many twists and turns, but everybody gave a little, and in the end, La Crosse will have a bigger and better La Crosse Center, which should mean even more convention business for the city.

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