LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – After seven years of planning and two years of construction, the La Crosse Center’s facelift is finally complete. The $42 million renovations and expansion mark the center’s first widescale project in more than 20 years.

Center Director Art Fahey said a wider range of events can now be held with the construction finished.

“We’ve had the state basketball tournaments, we’ve had some shows that have come in, and we’ve had some conventions already, but this is the first time we’ve had the complete building open to us,” Fahey detailed.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds says the 40-year-old building has played a vital role in the city’s growth, and he hopes the renovation will continue that trend.

“This is not only an economic driver, but it’s also a civic driver,” Reynolds explained. “It invests in our community in a cultural way.”

Explore La Crosse Executive Director A.J. Frels credits the La Crosse Center for helping the county bank more than $280 million in tourism spending two years ago.

Frels hopes the updated facilities will bring similar numbers to the community for years to come.

“The beautifully renovated center is what we will need to bring and retain conventions,” Frels said. “That will allow us to compete with such markets as Madison, Appleton, Green Bay, Rochester, and, of course, the Dells.”

With so much time and effort put into the La Crosse Center’s expansion, Reynolds says city leaders need to put in the work to bring those conventions and events to the area.

“That’s our job now is to make sure that we’re following through on the commitment that was made years ago,” Reynolds expressed. “To make sure this was a worthwhile investment in our community.”

This is just the second major renovation the La Crosse Center has undergone since opening in 1980.