LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAXWEUX) – Governor Evers is investing more than 140 million dollars in the entertainment industry, which is good news for live event venues in La Crosse. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff tells us how the grant money could help venues get back on their feet.

Live event venues have struggled throughout the pandemic, but hope is on the horizon.

Last week, Gov. Tony Evers announced more than $140 million in grants will be available for the state’s entertainment and tourism industries.

That’s good news for the La Crosse Center, as the venue is starting to make its way back to normal operations.

“We had enough rainy-day funds to cover our losses that we had in 2020,” Executive Director Art Fahey said. “In 2021, we had a good six months of still being closed down and we’re just slowly coming back and ramping up to the full capacity.”

Fahey says the La Crosse Center received state money at the beginning of 2020 which helped to weather the storm.

Staff are still waiting to hear back on their application status for the federal Shuttered Venue Grants, and Fahey adds they will be exploring the new grants announced by Gov. Evers.

Smaller venues have been hit even harder by the pandemic, including the Warehouse in La Crosse.

Warehouse Alliance Executive Director Steve Harm says some donations have helped keep the venue afloat, but grant assistance has been hard to come by.

“We’ve got a couple of smaller grants but we always, because we’re a nonprofit, get kind of pushed out of those because we don’t have any employees,” Harm explained.

Harm says he will also be looking into the new grants from the state, and while he was surprised to hear that money was available for venues, he’s grateful for the support.

“We do music here, we don’t sell liquor, we don’t sell anything else but music so it’s nice they’re thinking about us, I hope it comes through,” Harm expressed.

In the meantime, the Warehouse is preparing for its first shows in over a year next month as part of “Indy Venue Week”, but it’s not a full return to normal.

“We decided that we would do four shows during that week where we’d have super limited capacity where we’d have about 25 people in here, and then we’re not going to do any shows again until end of August,” Harm detailed.

For the La Crosse Center, a basketball show in July will mark the return of major events.

“We do have the Harlem Globetrotters coming to us on July 23rd, and as we get into the fourth quarter we also have our annual bull fighting/bull riding event that’s coming,” Fahey listed. “Those types of events are starting to manifest themselves and show themselves again here.”

The La Crosse Center will have sanitation stations available at its events moving forward, and masks will not be required for entry.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The grant money is coming from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Funds will be distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Administration And Department of Revenue.