La Crosse Center construction moves forward for the 2021 re-open

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – An iconic staple along the Mississippi riverfront is halfway through a major facelift. First News at Nine’s David LaClair stopped by the La Crosse Center to see how construction is coming so far.

Walking in Riverside Park is an everyday affair for downtown La Crosse resident Kelley Conrad.

“I walk at least once a day, often twice a day. Once in the morning, and once in the afternoon,” said Conrad.

One highlight of Conrad’s everyday stroll is seeing the ongoing progress of the La Crosse Center, where renovations and construction started in March.

Conrad said, “I remember when they started putting up the fences and holes, they were going to put the pillars in. I’ve spent more than a few hours sitting on a bench there watching the construction crew putting together the pieces.”

La Crosse Center Director, Art Fahey said, “La Crosse built this in 1980, it was Mayor Pat Zielke at the time. It was his vision to make this all happen.”

However, after 40 years, Fahey says the iconic concert and sports venue was ready for a facelift.

“We had analyzed, where’s the growth potential for more business to come to La Crosse and the La Crosse center? A big part of it, to take advantage of the Mississippi River which is right out our back door, so the design became part of a community project,” said Fahey.

In addition to a full remodel of the facility, major additions will include new meeting rooms off the arena, a new sound system, a remodeled lobby, and the new grand ballroom overlooking the river.

Even the covid pandemic has had its advantages for the crew.

Fahey said, “When we started construction, covid almost hit about the same exact time. It slowed us down from doing events in the building which we continued to plan on doing. From a construction standpoint, it actually opened up the door a little bit more for us because we didn’t have to work around the events, we were going to have coming in.”

With 6 years in the making and a $42 million budget, Fahey says he looks forward to the grand opening of the La Crosse Center for the late fall of 2021.

“We’re really excited at what’s going to happen here in the next year or so with this venue and the things it’s going to bring. I think it’s something the La Crosse area and western Wisconsin can be very proud of,” said Fahey.

Conrad said, “It’s going to be an interesting place, we’re looking forward to it opening so we can maybe have dinner or something overlooking the river.”

The center currently aims for a tentative open date to the public sometime in November.

In La Crosse, David LaClair, First News at Nine.

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