EAU CLAIRE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – After eight years and a few setbacks, shovels finally hit the dirt at the site of the John and Carolyn Sonnentag Fieldhouse and event center.

John and Carolyn Sonnentag, who donated $70 million dollars to the project joined UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt for a ceremonial groundbreaking that will change the face of Eau Claire when it opens in the Spring of 2024.

The future home for UW-Eau Claire basketball along Menomonie Street will be the largest public recreation facility in northwest Wisconsin. 

“It’s just wonderful that after eight years we’re finally seeing this project get off the ground. John and I couldn’t be happier, and we said years ago when all of this was unveiled, we just hoped we would live long enough to see it. So, we still got a couple of years but we’re going to make it happen.”

“And I want to express our sincere appreciation for their kind and generous gift of historic proportion to this university and its students. This gift will impact UW-Eau Claire and our community for generations.”

The County Materials, Events, and Recreation Complex will also include the Mayo Clinic Health System diagnostic imaging, Sports Medicine Clinic, and a Springhill Suites by Marriott. The center is expected to be ready in time to host UW-Eau Claire’s 2024 graduation ceremony.