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Two shows pledge support for Alliant Center

June 27, 2013 | 0 comments


Two of the largest shows held at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison have pledged their support for a new building project.

World Dairy Expo and the Midwest Horse Fair last week held a press conference to pledge their financial support of the pending new Alliant Energy Center (AEC) pavilion building project and committed to stay in the Madison facility for years to come.

The expanded partnership between the Dane County-owned facility and the two large livestock-based expositions will mean the two premier events will remain in Madison and help fully fund two new state-of-the-art multi-use pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center.

The new agreements include $4 million in private funding to help pay for some new facilities on the grounds.

During the press conference Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said he was "thrilled that World Dairy Expo and the Midwest Horse Fair will be calling the Alliant Energy Center home for a long time to come and are joining with us to fund this exciting expansion."

The cemented partnership, he said, will transform the Alliant Energy Center grounds and strengthen its reputation as a premiere destination for a wide variety of world-class events – from agriculture shows to conventions and trade shows.

World Dairy Expo has signed an agreement to call the AEC home for the next 10 years with a five-year option. The Midwest Horse Fair has committed to a 20-year agreement.

If all goes as planned the 11 existing barns at the AEC will all be torn down as soon as World Dairy Expo is completed in October to make way for the new pavilions. Those new buildings will need to be completed and ready to use by the time the Midwest Horse Fair comes to town April 14.

"World Dairy Expo is proud to invest in this project, which we believe will enable our event and others to continue to thrive for many years to come," said Scott Bentley, World Dairy Expo’s new General Manager.

Bentley added, "Expo is very excited about the prospect of the new pavilions, which will mean improved cow comfort for the 2,600 head of North America’s world-class cattle that travel to Madison each year to compete."

Rhonda Reese, general manager of the Midwest Horse Fair said her show and the Alliant Energy Center have enjoyed an incredibly strong partnership for years, and this "kind of investment represents our dedication to that relationship."

For generations of Midwest Horse Fair visitors, the Alliant Energy Center is their home away from home for three days in the spring, she added. "These improvements will make our fair all that more attractive to everyone who attends."



State and county officials, as well as private companies have shown their willingness to invest in the new AEC facilities because of the importance of agriculture and the economic impact to the region and the state from the livestock-based shows.

Last year’s World Dairy Expo, with attendance of 70,000 people, resulted in approximately $19 million of direct spending in the Madison area and a regional economic impact of $50 million.

There were 2,950 registered international guests from 95 countries at last year’s five-day dairy event.

The Midwest Horse Fair, which runs for three days, drew 53,500 visitors to the Madison venue last year. The fair draws equine enthusiasts from all over the country, as well as from Canada and even Australia, bringing together more than 650 horses, alongside hundreds of vendors and dozens of world-class entertainers and trainers.

Reese said the home of the Midwest Horse Fair needed to evolve and change with the times. New facilities will allow the organization to meet its goal of more horses, mores shows and clinics and ultimately its goal of more education.

"We are already planning new events for 2014."



In his first term as County Executive, Parisi brought together public and private partners to plan strategically for the future of the county-owned campus and find ways to retain staple events that bring millions of dollars into the region’s economy.

Dane County partnered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), World Dairy Expo, and Midwest Horse Fair and submitted a proposal to fund an $18 million project to replace the centers existing barns with two modern multi-use pavilions.

Pending the outcome of the state budget, continued support by the Gov. Scott Walker and approval by the State Building Commission, the state would contribute half the cost of the project under the proposal.

Under the new agreements announced last week, World Dairy Expo will contribute $3 million for construction of the new pavilions and the Wisconsin Horse Council, the organization that owns Midwest Horse Fair, will contribute $1 million.

During the press conference designs for the new pavilions were unveiled.

Once completed, the facilities will total nearly 290,000 square feet and house 2,600 head of cattle or up to 1,300 horses. The buildings would replace aging barns on the grounds – some of which date back to the 1960s – and should eliminate the need for temporary livestock housing facilities.



World Dairy Expo 2013, themed "Center of the Dairy Universe," will be held in the current barns and facilities Oct. 1-5.

Parisi said that other venues have tried to lure World Dairy Expo away from Madison and he wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.

Mark Clark, who left his position as general manager of World Dairy Expo to take over as head of the Alliant Energy Center, said the new pavilions will be much more environmentally friendly than the current facilities.

"We will have better control of manure storage and handling and stormwater runoff.

He has been working with a construction firm to create plans and work with users of the future facilities to make sure they will fit the use.

Clark said the livestock barns will be constructed for animal comfort but are also designed so they can be used for other types of events. "These will be some really unique buildings."

The current set of barns covers eight acres and the new buildings will make more efficient use of that space, he said, allowing the shows to put more animals in the new buildings while using the same footprint.

"There will be fewer fire lanes and the shows won’t have to put on the temporary tents anymore. That will free more parking space," he said.

Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Ben Brancel said Gov. Walker has been very involved in the process that has led to this point and has encouraged DATCP to work closely with Dane County on the project.

"It is of benefit to a wide spectrum of people and this collaboration has been exciting to work on. We want to help make this a facility that will be a shining light to all who visit here."

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