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Yesterday in La Crosse

The “man DeLorean” was not the name of a Star Wars movie, 35 years ago

Brad Williams



In 1984, automobile man John DeLorean went on trial for trafficking cocaine.  DeLorean claimed police entrapment, and he was acquitted.  A newspaper cartoon that November showed DeLorean asking the public to help pay the debts from his court case.  The following year, DeLorean’s car with the winged doors would be immortalized as a time machine in the original ‘Back to the Future’ movie.   

There were plans in 1984 to replace the old Sawyer Auditorium with a hotel, specifically a Hilton.  The Sawyer had closed four years earlier, when the La Crosse Center opened for business.  Developer Richard Barbour was being given a new chance to get the hotel project going, when the city council overturned a vote by the plan commission to sell the building to Western Wisconsin Tech.  Mayor Pat Zielke got a letter from Hilton, saying the company ‘would very much enjoy’ trying to bring a hotel to downtown.   

At the La Crosse Center just before Thanksgiving, a rock concert featured REO Speedwagon, Survivor, and Zebra.  The show lasted four hours, and drew a crowd of almost seven thousand fans in 1984, 35 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.