Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the La Crosse Center Friday afternoon announcing a $5,000,000 investment from the state in the La Crosse Center expansion project.
The project has a total cost of around $40 million and is already well into the planning stages. The governor to proposed adding a five million dollar investment from the state. While citing a study done by UW-La Crosse and La Crosse County the governor said that investment is based on bolstering the booming tourism in the region. The governor said the state isn't in the business of building or expanding convention centers unless that impact is farther reaching.
"What makes this different is the regional economic impact and what impact it has on tourism... not just in downtown La Crosse, the City of La Crosse, or even La Crosse county but all throughout this region.
That study found that the La Crosse Center has a $40 million impact in the area with 25% of ticket sales coming from out of state.
"Certainly we agree a hundred percent," said A.J. Frels, Executive Director of the La Crosse County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This will impact the county wide and beyond. It's a regional impact, there's no doubt about it."
"There's no question we have an economic impact, that's part of our mission statement," said La Crosse Center Director Art Fahey. "When we're bringing in people that stay overnight, stay in hotels and have a night to dine in town or do shopping, that's all part of what we are here for."
The La Crosse Center Board originally asked for $12 million, but they said any bit helps.
"Yeah, we did ask for 12... [but] 5 million dollars is going to fit into the program very nicely and we're really excited about it." said Fahey.
The governor said four years ago his capital budget included $5 million for a similar project in Green Bay for the KI Convention Center. He also said La Crosse is a unique case for convention centers because many times hotel room availability needs to catch up to convention center expansion. However with La Crosse adding four new hotels in a year and a half, it's just the opposite.