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Yesterday in La Crosse

Trouble for the Catbirds, the new team in town, 35 years ago



In the fall of 1985, the Catbirds basketball team of the CBA was about to play its first season in La Crosse, after spending two years in Louisville.  But a Tribune story talked of trouble with the new team. In November, the players were still in training camp.  Center Russell Cross had his right knee in a cast, and another Catbirds player left to take a job in Atlanta.  The team finished its first regular season in La Crosse with a .500 record, but still managed to reach the CBA league finals against the Tampa Bay Thrillers.   

Around Thanksgiving, a ribbon cutting was planned at the intersection of Highways 16 and 157 at Valley View Mall.  Major highway improvements were being made in the mall area, with much of Highway 16 being expanded to four lanes south of the mall.  The reigning Miss USA was brought to town the following fall to cut the ribbon on the $11 million road project.   

The future of presidential debates was being decided by a national commission co-chaired by former Wisconsin Congressman Melvin Laird.  After Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale met for two debates in 1984, the commission decided there should be three “joint appearances” between the major party nominees each election year, along with one vice presidential debate.  Commission members also opposed shortening the campaign season, and wanted to see more primaries early in the election year.  Those debate rules were announced in 1985, yesterday in La Crosse.    

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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