The Center of Attention

join the major events facility discussion, people

Thom Fountain, photos by Thom Fountain

There was a full house on March 29 at the RCU Headquarters for the first public discussion of a new events center in Eau Claire. The forum was led by a panel from Clear Vision, including Mike Rindo from UW-Eau Claire, Linda John from Visit Eau Claire, and Ben Richgruber from Eau Claire Regional Arts Center. There were a lot of ideas and opinions, but those present seemed overwhelmingly supportive.

One main point of conversation was the necessity of a larger events center – which to some extent was preaching to the choir – and the panelists and attendees gave both anecdotal and statistical evidence of it. Possibly the most poignant of these was the “Too Big for Eau Claire” list that Linda John brought forward, detailing every convention, event, or show that contacted Visit Eau Claire, but was turned away because the city simply doesn’t have the space. John said the list now constitutes millions in lost revenue.

The contentious points of discussion revolved around the location and the purpose of the building. It’s obvious that there will be, and already is, a struggle between putting it downtown to encourage foot traffic or near the highways for accessibility. As far as the purpose of the building, there were hearty camps for a convention center (which could bring in a lot of money) and an arts center and venue (which could attract national performers and make Eau Claire even more of a cultural hub).

Obviously, there’s still a lot of questions and luckily Clear Vision is hosting a second discussion on April 25, once again at RCU Headquarters starting at 7pm. Clear Vision will be presenting on some comparable areas that have both succeeded and failed at building a new center, once again followed by comments and questions from the audience.

Lots more here:

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