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Onalaska looking to spend $250K on Omni Center repairs and upgrades

ONALASKA, Wis. - For nearly two decades, the Omni Center has been a staple in Onalaska -- providing the community a place to hold big events.

It also serves as the home of the Coulee Region Chill hockey team.

Now the city is looking to make some big improvements and repairs to the facility that are coming with a hefty price tag.

The city has already spent more than $67,000 this past year for upgrades and repairs.

The cost in repairs is going to more than double in the coming year, and there's even more to come in the future.

At 20 years old, the Onalaska Omni Center has seen its share of wear and tear.

"It's not caving in," said Kelly Hanson, the center's general manager. "There's not large holes, (and) there's not leaks. It's just something that, over a course of time, you're going to need to repair it."

The center's general manager says 2012 was a good year for business, with increases in ice and banquet services, but even so, the center was not profitable.

Hanson said part of the solution could be in upgrades and repairs.


"We're all up to code, but could we use a better lighting package to decrease the costs?" asked Hanson. "Sure. Are there some repairs? Yeah, there are repairs everywhere."

That's why the City of Onalaska has budgeted for some big improvements to the center.

They include repairs to the roof at just under $29,000, new rink lights at $30,000 and and a new ice resurfacer at $82,450.

These along with several more items, total $250,000 in repairs for 2013.

"It would increase our sales, (and) it would increase our volume," said Hanson. "The longer we can run the facility the better."

But even with a quarter of a million planned for improvements, some things didn't make the list, including a new chiller unit for the rink and a new paint job to the facility.

"Funding is always a problem; we don't always have the money to do it," said Dan Wick, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Onalaska. "We put what we thought were the critical items that needed to be done, and we put some things that we can continue to look at further off that we will plan for which years we will do them."

Hanson said even if some upgrades and improvements take a while, the changes coming will keep the center operating for decades to come.

"The Omni Center is here for the community," said Hanson. "It's been recognized as that, and so we're going to put forth the efforts to maintain a beautiful facility and make it work to its potential."

The exact number for future repairs is still in the works, but it comes to an estimated total of $645,500. That's on top of the planned $250,000 being proposed for the 2013 repairs and upgrades.

The City Council will be putting the Omni Center's repair and upgrade plan to a vote this Tuesday.

If approved, the changes will start sometime after March.

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