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No golden sledgehammer for mayor, as city “breaks ground” Friday on $42 million La Crosse Center expansion



It’s Friday the 13th. There’s a full moon. So, of course, today is the day the city of La Crosse decides to break ground on a $42-million La Crosse Center expansion.

Mayor Tim Kabat welcomes it.

“The Friday the 13th and the full moon might just be fitting because we’ve had a little bit of a winding road to get here,” Kabat said Wednesday on La Crosse Talk PM, “but I think everybody is very excited to get moving forward with the construction.”

Granted, the city isn’t breaking ground under the light of the full moon. It’s scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in North Hall. In fact, will they really be breaking ground at all? Shouldn’t they be busting down walls, instead?

Regardless, don’t expect anything too out of the ordinary. No golden sledgehammer for Kabat and he definitely won’t be on any machinery.

“I think there’s some golden shovels,” Kabat said. “I think we’re going to use some shovels.

“There was, a few years ago, at one of our housing programs, we were actually demolishing a condemned structure, and they had asked me to go into, kind of, this front end loader type of thing with a claw on it to start the demolition and I failed miserably. I think I maybe I swung and knocked off satellite dish or something. So, I’m not going to utilize anything other than a shovel.”

Yes, when the mayor calls it a “front end loader type thing,” you best just give him a shovel, instead.

The Center plan been years in the making, hence Kabat mentioning the “winding road,” which included the mayor’s initial veto on a $49-million expansion that would have taken up a large chunk of Riverside Park.

The renovations should be complete some time in 2021. With that, comes high expectations from those involved with the Center, to utilize everything it’s got.

“There is pressure,” Kabat said. “I think staff feels that pressure now, as well as the board.

“They work really hard at trying to maximize the use of that facility and, as we expand and have more space available, there will be added pressure for more events and more activities going on. So, I know they feel that but I know that they are up to the challenge, as well.”

It’s like an athlete signing a $300-million contract and then having to live up to the money. Those in charge of booking the La Crosse Center become that athlete.

“It’s one of those challenges because it has to be a really good venue for a lot of different things and that’s not always the easiest thing to pull off,” Kabat said.

Time will tell what difference $42 million in renovations and expansions make.

If the money was wisely invested, though, the Center should almost book itself, being a state-of-the-art facility.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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