LA CROSSE, Wis. - Don and Roxanne Weber watched, smiling, as the name of the new downtown performing arts center was unveiled Wednesday.
It's not just because the Weber Center for the Performing Arts bears their name but also because it helps fill out their vision for the waterfront property they started developing back in 2006.
"It seems like a dream," said Don Weber.
"(Like we) woke up one morning and it's completed," he added.
The new performing arts center has the potential to provide another significant economic boost to the downtown area.
"I remember the old warehouses and wooden docks," said Roxanne Weber. "To bring life back to this area is just fun. It's going to be exciting."
"I've been a risk taker all my life and look, did I think that six years later there wasn't only going to be one building but three buildings, a parking ramp and now a performing arts center? No. I wouldn't have bet on it but I believed it could happen," said Don Weber.18076232
The tax base for the area has grown from less than $40,000 to more $1.2 million in the last six years, according to Weber.
Those in the local arts scene say the new performing arts center will have other economic benefits as well.
"I think it brings more people to the area and it also elevates the visibility of La Crosse as an arts destination," said Toni Asher, the executive director of The Pump House Regional Arts Center.
"Going to a show is not just going to a show. It's going out to dinner, having some drinks, meeting your friends and having a wonderful full-evening experience," said David Kilpatrick, executive director of the La Crosse Community Theatre.
The Weber Center for the Performing Arts will be the home of the La Crosse Community Theatre. It will also host some of Viterbo University's performances.
The Webers say their donation to the project is an investment in our community.
"It's becoming a destination. I think you're going to see destination weddings, people who are going to come stay at the hotels, and come to see performances," said Don Weber.
The first show at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts will be Macbeth. It opens later this month.
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