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Madison Arena Upgrades Pitch as Part of $300M Development

Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center

Madison’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum would be upgraded as part of a $300-million development of Alliant Energy Center, which would include more hotels, retail, office space and housing.

The Alliant Energy Center features several exhibition spaces in addition to the Coliseum, as well as a hotel. The proposed master plan from Perkins + Will would upgrade most of the exhibition spaces and the Coliseum while focusing on a site overhaul to give the area a more urban-village feel. A newer pavilion designed primarily for the World Dairy Expo would be left alone, but the current Exhibition Hall would be expanded with new ballrooms and meeting spaces.

It’s the future of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum that is most interesting, Opening in 1967 and the former home of the University of Wisconsin hockey team, Coliseum usage has shifted from sports to larger events and concerts. The renovations would center on a series of small upgrades and could be dome at any point. In fact, the first round of renovations would be largely unseen by the public: upgraded loading docks that can accommodate the big rigs used by most traveling shows, as well as upgraded locker room and performer spaces. Other changes include an overhaul of the concourse with more restrooms and concessions, as well as upgraded suites and an adjustment of seating to better accommodate sports, concerts and other big events. Down the line, a big-buck renovations would replace the seating and give the bowl an aesthetic makeover.

Although sporting events are mentioned in this proposal, the majority of the changes to the facilities infrastructure related to the other big events hosted at Alliant Energy Center, including the World Dairy Expo. Seating at the Coliseum is between 8,100 and 10,000, depending on the event, and larger concerts are either bypassing Madison or, as in the case of Paul McCartney, playing at the larger Kohl Center on the University of Madison campus. (It’s also too large for the USHL’s Madison Capitols, who decamped for a much smaller arena in nearby Middleton.) The changes would upgrade the Coliseum experience, to be sure, but not significantly alter the potential shows and performers playing there.

RELATED STORIES: New Study: No New Madison Arena Needed; County: New arena needed in Madison; New Madison arena pitched by developer

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