In the next step in the redevelopment of the Alliant Energy Center, the Dane County Board on July 11 approved a $199,500 contract with Strang Inc. of Madison for architectural engineering design services related to an expanded Exhibition Hall and campus.

An expanded Exhibition Hall is the first step in a planned redevelopment of the entire 164-acre county-owned Alliant Energy Center campus. A master plan previously approved by the Dane County Board calls for about $300 million in public and private investment to create a walkable, environmentally friendly destination with meeting space, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The Alliant Energy Center already hosts World Dairy Expo, Midwest Horse Fair, the Dane County Fair, Brat Fest and CrossFit games, and the expansion is expected to draw even more large events.

“Today, the Alliant Energy Center is one of the premier large event spaces in the country. An expanded Exhibition Hall will insure that Dane County will continue to attract business and serve the community well into the future,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). “I’m looking forward to working with Strang, Inc., as we move forward on this exciting project.”

The first phase of the Exhibition Hall expansion is estimated to cost $77.4 million and would add 50,000 square feet of flexible space that could be subdivided to meet the demands of specific users. An upper level would provide a large ballroom, new kitchen, service corridors and storage space for events of varying sizes.

The Exhibition Hall portion of the redevelopment alone is projected to create nearly 644 new jobs and generate $670,000 in annual state income taxes.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the County Board considered a $104,000 donation from the Paradigm Foundation for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office to purchase specialized equipment for use in tactical situations, including active shooter or high-threat situations.

The donation follows the Sept. 19 shooting at software developer WTS Paradigm at 1850 Deming Way in Middleton. That day, a gunman shot four people before being stopped by police. The Paradigm Foundation was founded to give back to first responders and establish a framework for supporting worthy causes.

“We all need to offer our deepest thanks to the Paradigm Foundation and CEO Nate Herbst for this generous donation,” Corrigan said. “This is an amazing example of turning a tragedy into an opportunity for giving back to the community.”

The new safety equipment is designed to protect law enforcement personnel and will include items such as rifle-rated vests, helmets, shields and first aid kits.

The county board also hnored the public service contributions of Bill Lunney over the past 50 years, including serving as a member of the Dane County Board and for the past 30 years as chairman of the Dane County Parks Commission. The board also recognized the naming of William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park.

Lunney has a long history working of working for conservation and environmental organizations including the Wisconsin Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, Groundswell Conservancy, Friends of Capital Springs Recreation Area, Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin and Gathering Waters Conservancy.

Lunney and his wife, Judie Pfeifer, have also co-founded the Foundation for Dane County Parks as a legacy to support the future of public open spaces.

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