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Construction of new Alliant Energy Center pavilions moves ahead

Dec. 3, 2013 | 0 comments


The home of World Dairy Expo has moved another step closer to having new multi-purpose buildings in place of an aging array of barns at the Alliant Energy Center.

Dane County officials said Nov. 26 that they plan to award a $20.7 million contract to build the two new multi-use pavilions on the county-owned Alliant Energy Center campus to Miron Construction.

Final steps in the process include approval of funds for the project by the Wisconsin State Building Commission and the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Initially, the county planned to begin construction right after World Dairy Expo concluded last October, but there was concern about doing such a massive construction project during a Wisconsin winter.

Under that scenario, construction on the two multi-use pavilions would have needed to be done by April so the Midwest Horse Fair — the Alliant Energy Center's second-largest customer — would be able to use them for their horse-themed event.

County officials and those in charge of the project felt that the timeline was too tight and the construction process could be impacted by weather over the winter. Now, they plan to demolish the old barns on the grounds after the Midwest Horse Fair and do their construction over the summer — in time to be ready for World Dairy Expo 2014.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said that public/private partnerships are enabling the county to construct these new, larger facilities that will help keep longtime events like World Dairy Expo and The Midwest Horse Fair in Dane County.

Parisi said the buzz about the new facilities is also generating potential new customers for the Alliant Energy Center.

Partnerships that led to this point in the construction process included the State of Wisconsin, World Dairy Expo and the Wisconsin Horse Council, which owns the Midwest Horse Fair, along with the Alliant Energy Center's food service provider, Centerplate.

The two large ag-related events on the grounds pledged financial support for the project last summer, as well as signing long-term contracts to keep their events on site in Madison.

This fall, Parisi's office negotiated a multi-million naming rights deal for the new pavilions with New Holland Agriculture and Construction.

Miron Construction is getting the nod to build the 290,000 square feet of space in the multi-use pavilions. The new buildings will stand in the footprint of the 11 old barns that will be razed to make way for the new space.

Some of the old barns date to the 1960s and at least one was built in the 1990s when the Alliant Energy Center added the Exhibition Hall.

Parisi's office said the total project cost is expected to be $23.86 million, including the construction, a construction contingency fund, the cost of temporary barn facilities that will be used by customers while the new pavilions are under construction and stalls for animals that will be placed in the new pavilions when construction is done.

One of the customers that will need to be accommodated during the construction phase is the Dane County Fair, which will be held during July. The county's construction budget includes $500,000 for temporary structures that will be used to house livestock during the fair and other shows at the grounds.

State officials and legislators have been supportive, allocating $9 million to help pay for the project — many have said they recognize the importance of agriculture, dairy and World Dairy Expo.

World Dairy Expo is contributing $3 million to the project and signed an agreement to call the Alliant Energy Center home for the next 10 years with a five-year option. The Midwest Horse Fair has committed to a 20-year agreement and pledged $1 million.

New Holland's naming rights deal is reportedly worth as much as $1.5-$2 million to the project.

Parisi's office said that some changes and additions were made to the original pavilion plans to accommodate a number of large events whose organizers have expressed interest in holding their events there.

More restrooms and an upgraded ventilation system were some of the refinements made to the plans.

The County Executive also announced a $70,000 market study with the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau that aims to identify potential new shows to bring to the pavilions.

The county will provide $50,000 in funds for that study while the GMCVB will kick in $20,000.

The combination of the new expanded pavilions, with their upgrades, and the market study has the potential to bring any number of large-scale events to Madison, Parisi said.

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