The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

March 24, 2014

Civic center bustling

Conventions, park concerts fueling civic center

(Continued)

“The meetings and convention center side has been extremely high. There are peaks and valleys, but the banquets and events and those kinds of things have grown consistently,” Lyman said.

The biggest problem, he said, is that they are routinely forced to turn away business because of a lack of space.

That is the impetus behind now long-standing attempt by the city to get included in a state bonding bill for a civic center expansion.

The $32.5 million expansion would include $15.5 million from Mankato and the remainder from state bonding. Mankato has repeatedly lost out in recent years. The money was included in bonding bills but excised by then Gov. Tim Pawlenty. More recently, Gov. Mark Dayton supported the plan, but it failed to pass the Legislature.

Funding for Mankato – and other civic center projects in the state – are in the governor’s bonding request this year.

“It seems like we’ve been trying for as long as I can remember,” Lyman said. “A lot of people have worked so hard at it.”

City Manager Pat Hentges is cautiously optimistic about the city’s chances of getting bonding money this session.

“I think (our chances) are probably as good as they’ve been. We have the support of all three bodies, including the governor, leaders in the House and Senate. It’s whether or not they can get some additional votes, particularly from the House” Hentges said.

Hentges recently told the City Council that if state funding fails to come through again, they may have to consider a change in plans.

“If we don’t get it this year we going to have to rethink it and obviously go with a substantially scaled back project that may not be able to accommodate MSU on a full-time basis down there,” he said.

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