|Former names||Dane County Coliseum|
|Location||1919 Alliant Energy Center Way|
Madison, Wisconsin 53713, U.S.
|Madison Capitols (USHL)|
Alliant Energy Center (formerly Dane County Coliseum) is a multi-building complex in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. It comprises 164 acres of greenspace and includes the 255,000 square foot Exhibition Hall, the 10,000-seat Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the 29 acre Willow Island and the 22,000 square foot Arena. After completing various stages of planning throughout 2013, it was announced on November 26 that Dane County would be awarding a $20.7 million contract to Miron Construction for the construction of two new multi-use pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center. The exhibition pavilions, which total 290,000 square feet, will be replacing the nine current agricultural barns. Construction began following the Midwest Horse Fair in April 2014 with completion set in time for the 2014 World Dairy Expo in late September.. The Center welcomes more than one million people attending more than 500 events annually, ranging from local meetings and banquets to large sporting events and major concerts.
Location[edit | edit source]
The Alliant Energy Center campus is located on the southern edge of Madison, Wisconsin, on John Nolen Drive.
History[edit | edit source]
In 1895 the Agricultural Society and Dane County purchased 250 acres of land at the current site to provide an area that could be used for the Dane County Fair. This area was known as "Lakeside Park Farm", but some thought it merely represented a worthless swampland. Because of financial difficulties, the Dane County Fair was halted on the site in 1938 and did not return until 1951. During this time, even though the Dane County Fair was held in an alternate location, the County board did not abandon the site and Dane County managed to pay off the mortgage for the property in 1941.
As a major turning point towards the advent of a full-service venue, roads, parking lots, sewer and water, a heating plant and kitchen/bathroom facilities were built on the grounds in 1949-51. In 1951, the Dane County Fair moved back to the present Alliant Energy Center (formerly the Expo Center) and remains there today.
Over the ensuing years, the first buildings were erected on the site. In 1954 the Arena was built; it remains the only building still standing from this era. The Youth Building was constructed in 1962 and housed the offices for 4-H in Dane County. This area now serves as the administration building for the Alliant Energy Center. In 1967, Veterans Memorial Coliseum was built. Its early clientele included the Zor Shrine Circus, World Dairy Expo, Dane County Junior Fair, The ABC National Bowling Tournament, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Tony Bennett and Duke Ellington.
In 1974, the first Exposition Center Commission was appointed. This Committee headed construction and development for the present Alliant Energy Center (formerly Expo Center). With the Coliseum schedule reaching 160 event days in 1977, it was clear that the demand for trade and consumer shows and conventions was competing with concerts, sporting events and family shows. Over time, the market area had expanded well beyond Wisconsin and the committee recognized the need for expansion. In 1978, an addition to the Youth Building was built (now the Administration Building) and the new facility was named the Forum. At the time, this facility offered the area's largest facilities for trade shows, banquets and other public functions. The forum was replaced with the construction of Exhibition Hall in 1995
Veterans Memorial Coliseum celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1992. At this point, over 16 million people had entered the Coliseum doors to attend a vast array of events.
As a consequence of the large demand for exhibit space, the 255,000 square foot Exhibition Hall was built at Alliant Energy Center in 1995 as the largest unobstructed facility for trade/consumer shows and conventions in the state.
The naming rights for the campus, previously the Dane County Exposition Center, were sold in 2000 to Alliant Energy Corporation, which holds the naming rights to the Expo Center for 20 years. The agreement does not include the naming rights of individual buildings on the campus, which have all retained their original names.
Although the naming rights belong to Alliant Energy, the Center is owned and operated by Dane County. The Alliant Energy Center operates without the use of County general fund monies - it is run as a business using facility-generated revenues to cover the expenses incurred to operate the Center and its facilities. The Center has operated in this manner since 1990.
In 2013 Dane County completed plans for the construction of new multi-use pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center. Pavilions totaling 290,000 square feet replaced nine agricultural barns. Construction began in April 2014 and was completed by late September for the 2014 World Dairy Expo. A multi-million dollar naming rights deal for the facilities with New Holland Agriculture & Construction, along with other public/private funding partnerships with the State of Wisconsin, World Dairy Expo, the Midwest Horse Fair/Wisconsin Horse Council, and AEC food service provider, Centerplate, financed the expansion.
Veterans Memorial Coliseum[edit | edit source]
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, built in 1967, is a 10,231-seat multi-purpose arena located on the Alliant Energy Center campus. Previously known as Dane County Coliseum, it is a site for concerts, family shows, sporting events, consumer shows, conventions and assemblies. The building was completely renovated in 2004-2005.
The Coliseum has a long-standing history as a hockey venue. The building was home to the Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team from the 1967-68 season to the 1997-98 season. It was one of the largest college hockey arenas in the nation, as well as one of the loudest. Reportedly, the "sieve chant," which is now commonly heard in nearly every arena to taunt the opposing goalie after a goal, was first started at the Coliseum. The environment for Badger hockey games was such that it was nicknamed "the Montreal Forum of college hockey." Badger fans still call the arena "the Great Dane."
The Wisconsin Badgers women's hockey team also played a number of games on the Coliseum ice in their first two seasons (1999-00 and 2000-01). The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) boys' and girls' state hockey tournaments also take place each year in Veterans Memorial Coliseum. State tournaments for boys' hockey have been held in the Coliseum since 1971, except in 1974 and 1975 when they were held in Green Bay. All state tournaments for girls' hockey have been held in the Coliseum since 2001-02. The Coliseum was also home to two minor league hockey franchise teams, the Madison Monsters from 1995-96 until 1998-99, and the Madison Kodiaks in 1999-00. The Madison Mad Dogs, an indoor football team, also played in the Coliseum from 1998 to 2000. In 2009, indoor football returned to the Coliseum as the Continental Indoor Football League's Wisconsin Wolfpack played the 2009 season there. However, the following season the Wolfpack moved to the Hartmeyer Ice Arena. Currently, it is the home ice of the Madison Capitols hockey team.
References[edit | edit source]
- County Moves Forward on Construction of Alliant Energy Center Expansion. Dane County, WI (26 November 2013).
- New Holland Pavilions Unveiled at World Dairy Expo (30 September 2014).
- New Holland Pavilions. Retrieved on 8 November 2014.
- County Executive Announces Naming Rights Agreement with New Holland Agriculture & Construction for New AEC Pavilions. Dane County, WI (3 October 2013).
- Swift, E. M. When You Say Wisconsin ... Sports Illustrated, 1982-02-08.
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