Dane County continues moving toward the redevelopment of the massive Alliant Energy Center campus, announcing Tuesday that officials will work with an international development firm to create a comprehensive master plan.
The firm, Perkins+Will, was chosen out of six other candidates and has experience working with expositions facilities, including the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.
“This project represents a unique opportunity for Dane County to create a comprehensive and visionary master plan that responds to the evolving needs of visitors, provides an authentic experience, creates a gateway to the City, and reinforces the AEC as a self-sustaining regional entertainment destination,” project principal John Slack said.
The Dane County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the contract March 15. If selected, the project would be a collaboration between the firm's Minneapolis and Denver offices.
The AEC Comprehensive Master Plan Oversight Committee completed a market and economic impact analysis in addition to developing a vision and implementation framework, which will inform the more detailed campus plan.
“This is an exciting next step on the road to creating a solid, actionable plan for how to make better use of this key regional asset,” Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said.
The master plan will address how to transform the 164-acre campus, including the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Exposition Hall, New Holland Pavilions and Willow Island, into an economic driver for the region.
“The Alliant Energy Center campus is in the heart of Dane County and -- with thoughtful planning -- has the potential to further contribute to the growing visitor economy that enriches the quality of life for the city, the campus and the entire state,” Deb Archer, president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, said.
Also on Tuesday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced upcoming improvements to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum aimed at making the center more efficient.
Construction on new catwalk platforms, estimated to cost $1.1 million, is expected to begin in late April and be completed by mid-June. The three visitor concourses have been upgraded to high efficient LED lights, and high efficient sport lighting will be coming to the performance area in the bowl of the Coliseum.
“This is just the latest step in reinvigorating the Coliseum to be a world class destination,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.
AEC executive director Mark Clarke believes the improvements will make it more cost effective for promoters to bring concerts and events to the Alliant Energy Center. In 2017, the AEC campus saw an increase from 2016 in the number of of booked events, and it was also the highest revenue year since the 2008 recession, according to the county.