County Board chair: Committee rejecting $30M for Alliant Energy Center 'missed opportunity

alliant energy center.jpg

MADISON, Wis. - Dane County officials said they are trying to figure out how to move forward with the proposed Alliant Energy Center expansion project after the state's budget committee did not approve money for the project Tuesday evening.

"It's a missed opportunity by the state," said Sharon Corrigan, chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced his plans in March to provide $30 million for the expansion of the Alliant Energy Center, but the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance rejected the proposed funds during budget negotiations Tuesday.

Rep. Mark Born, a Republican from Beaver Dam who is on the committee, said the building projects plan funds more than 40 new projects across the state. He called it a "major investment."

Corrigan said the proposed expansion project would elevate Wisconsin in the agricultural industry and provide a large economic benefit to the state. The Alliant Energy Center hosts a variety of events, including the Dane County Fair, the World Dairy Expo and more than a dozen major agricultural shows.

She said without money approved from the state, the county must figure out how to make the expansion happen. She said the county will still try to make the case.

"I don't think it's the end of it," Corrigan added.

The $90 million project, which is the first phase of a master plan, will convert the Exhibition Hall from being a regional exposition center to a full-service convention center for all of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.

A third of the money for the project would have come from the state under Evers' plan, and the rest would come from taxpayer dollars and private partnerships like naming rights.

Under the budget committee's building projects plan, lawmakers created a $21 million fund in which local communities can apply for funds for projects.

Corrigan said Dane County would be able to apply for up to $5 million for the Exhibition Hall expansion.

Corrigan said the expansion is expected to create 644 net new jobs and generate $670,000 in annual state income taxes, which is about $25 million over 20 years.

A redevelopment committee plans to meet Monday to discuss how to move the expansion project forward.