Madison residents and neighbors of the Alliant Energy Center shared what they would like to see in renovations of the major event center at an open house event on Tuesday.
Dane County has been planning for future improvements at the 164-acre site that serves as a multi-building entertainment venue for expositions, conventions, conferences, meetings, banquets, trade shows, outdoor events and concerts for the past several months.
Perkins & Will were selected in February to create a multi-phase master plan to improve the complex, which includes the Dane County Coliseum, Exhibition Hall, Willow Island and the New Holland Pavilions.
Conceptual plans include the addition of a hotel and ballroom, expanding and renovating the coliseum, increasing landscaping areas and adding retail space.
John Slack, landscape architect for Perkins & Will, said the landscaping and retail space were two improvements the public wanted most. Slack also said there would be more parking to accommodate an expanded campus.
Jessica Johnson, general manager of the Holiday Inn on John Nolen Drive said the additional retail space will be attractive to customers.
“We’re excited about the retail space," Johnson said. “A lot of times when guest attend events, there isn’t anywhere to go, so that’s exciting.”
An expanded coliseum could potentially bring larger acts to Madison.
“If you want to bring Taylor Swift to Madison, there’s lighting requirements that you have to have, and they’re adding that. These are renovations that will bring bigger acts to the coliseum,” said Kayla Boone, who operates a business near the Alliant Energy Center.
Johnson is excited about that prospect because she said it will bring more people to the city and “make the Alliant Energy Center the gateway to downtown Madison.”
“The expansion will benefit Madison as a whole, from restaurants to hotels. Because you’ll be able to throw bigger events,” Johnson said.
But residents who live close to the complex fear that traffic congestion is going to get worse for people who live in the neighborhood. Melissa Calderon lives just a few minutes from the center, and said she “is not too happy about the changes."
“The expansion is going to bring more negatives for the neighborhood. We already have a lot of traffic, and sometimes we cannot even use our own roads. That problem is going to get worse, because we will not be able to get out of our own homes,” Calderon said.
Patricia Jenkins-Bock, corporate sales manager at the Holiday Inn, said the parking lot is currently a challenge at the Alliant Energy Center, citing the difficult entry and exit.
“When there are large events, traffic is an issue,” Jenkins-Bock said.
But she said she was satisfied with the additional parking space and “likes the idea that the driveway goes all the way around (the complex).”
“I think it will be a good thing, with the revenue it will bring in, it will bring new guests. Hopefully more people come out based on the accessibility, because people weren’t because of the traffic,” Jenkins-Bock said.