The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 24, 2014

Civic center bustling

Conventions, park concerts fueling civic center


If the state bonding is approved, the expansion will move to the area of the former U.S. Bank building and parking lot, which the city already owns.

An auditorium building on what is now the parking lot would become a large, flat show space while the former bank building would be renovated for convention and meeting breakout rooms and other uses.

The show space could be used for things like trade shows and also concerts and other events. Lyman said telescoping riser seats around the edges would create an auditorium for musicians to play. It would have 2,500 to 3,000 seats.

“Instead of building a big stage, it would be a plug-and-play venue. So if you have someone like Jackson Browne, they don’t have to bring in four or five semis of stuff. They can just plug in some gear and they’re ready.”

He said the auditorium also would provide good acoustics for orchestras.

Smaller music events are done in the banquet room area of the civic center, which can handle only 400 to 800 fans, depending on the setup.

“With the new space we could preserve the banquet room for banquets and push events into the new auditorium.

Currently, the civic center can handle conventions for about 600 people, but Lyman said the expansion would allow them to bring conventions twice that size.

“It gives us a whole new level of business we can go after. We’re losing the statewide conventions simply because we don’t have the space.”

And, he said, they can double their space for conventions without adding much more staff. “We can add maybe two or three or four people, but our revenue goes up a lot more.”

He said the expansion would not only allow for bigger conventions but would allow the civic center to book multiple smaller events, maybe a dart tournament in the auditorium, a wedding or business banquet in the banquet room and a Maverick hockey game in the arena.

The city also wants to upgrade all the concession stands in the arena. “Quite frankly, we don’t have the greatest food options right now. We need to offer higher quality foods and more menu options,” Lyman said.



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