The La Crosse Center is more than 30-years-old and is a prime spot for concerts, weddings and conventions, but the Center's director says it needs to be updated to compete with other venues.
The La Crosse Center’s convention hall and arena were originally built in 1980, but the size nearly doubled in 2000 with a $14 million expansion. However, now the center is hoping to remodel and update some of the key areas to accommodate bigger events and help the local community bring in more business.
“This has been something that has been coming for some time," said Art Fahey, director of the La Crosse Center.
Fahey said the center has been a staple of the downtown for many years. “I think there is a lot of buildings and businesses that are here because of the La Crosse Center over the years. This old girl has done a great job in drawing business to La Crosse.”
The center has held numerous wedding receptions, entertainment venues and conventions, but it is starting to take its toll on the building. It’s the reason the La Crosse Center is looking toward the future.
“When we have a building that is 33 years old, we have to start looking at what we are going to look like in the next 33 years," Fahey said.
An internal study was done in August and found that there are many opportunities to renovate and update the center. Locker rooms, dressing rooms and even the seating in the main halls could use some renovating.
“With that many things we are facing at and looking at, I said you know we better take an overall look at the complexion of what we've currently got and see what we can remodel or renovate with this,” said Fahey.
With new venues popping up nearby, the center needs to stay competitive.
“If we don't move forward, we are getting behind…If we stand still with what we are doing. I think we have a gem here," Fahey said.
It’s a gem old enough to help La Crosse turn into a vibrant city, but maybe a little out-of-date to have a long, bright future.
“So when we start looking at all these things, there's a big project in front of us here, in one way or another," Fahey said. "But it gives us an opportunity to take a look at what we've got as a footprint, can we expand, is the market there and where we can go from there."
The La Crosse Center Board members met Monday night to talk about the future of the La Crosse Center. Fahey said they are just in the beginning stages of getting approval to start talking about renovations or expansions.
Fahey said it could take about six-to-eight months to get everything together before they actually start looking at what can be done at the center.