September 12, 2017
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Oversight committee recommends full master plan


A sweeping redevelopment of the underutilized Alliant Energy Center is gaining momentum.


On Monday, the AEC Comprehensive Master Plan Oversight Committee voted unanimously to move ahead with a detailed plan for the 164-acre county-owned campus.


It’s a key step in transforming the property into a catalyst for economic development both by attracting more visitors and creating new opportunities for the adjacent neighborhoods in south Madison.


“The deeper we dive into this, the more we begin to see the real impact that strategic investments into the Alliant Energy Center can have on the broader community,” said Sharon Corrigan, Dane County Board Chair and Chair of the AEC committee.


A recently-completed “Visioning Report” prepared by Madison-based Vandewalle & Associates found strong community and business support for the project -- which also puts a major focus on improving connections between the AEC and nearby Lake Monona.


Committee member Shelia Stubbs, Dane County Supervisor for the campus and surrounding neighborhoods, emphasized the benefit for those living nearby. Initial plans have called for upgrading the 40-year-old Veterans Memorial Coliseum, adding another hotel, new restaurants and other amenities to the property along John Nolen Drive and Olin Avenue.


“Turning this exciting vision into reality would allow the benefits of the Alliant Energy Center campus both to be shared more equally in the community than in the past and to be developed in a way that better addresses neighborhood concerns,” said Stubbs.


The vote to proceed with a master plan was the latest move in a multi-step process undertaken by the AEC committee, which includes representatives of Dane County, the city of Madison, the tourism industry and local business leaders.  The project now moves to the Dane County Board’s Personnel & Finance Committee and Public Works & Transportation Committee for further review.


“I’m proud of what our broad-based committee has done but the work is far from complete,” said Corrigan, noting that specific improvements for the campus will be further explored during the master planning process scheduled to begin early 2018.


Zach Brandon, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and member of the oversight committee, called Monday’s vote an important step forward for the ambitious project which would involve both public and private sector investment.


“The future of the Alliant Energy Center campus presents a tremendous opportunity to create more employment and increase access to economic opportunity, as well as enhance connectivity between the campus and downtown Madison,” he said.


The AEC campus is considered by many the region’s premier, multi-venue expo, convention and event destination, providing a place for major events that attract visitors from across the country and around the world.


Deb Archer, President & CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and Madison Area Sports Commission, as well as oversight committee member, pointed to the potential boost to the tourism economy through AEC improvements.


“The prospect of redeveloping the campus significantly improves our ability to draw visitors,” Archer said. “And, with more visitors, there is increased likelihood of creating more activity, more jobs and new housing opportunities.” 


Community and stakeholder outreach was a key component of the six-month visioning phase led by Vandewalle & Associates.


The effort included input sessions with potential redevelopment site owners, local businesses, city and county officials and neighborhood residents. Feedback was also gathered via POLCO, an online polling service, and from comments gathered during Brat Fest and other public events.