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Civic Center Expansion Debate at the Capitol

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -

This is the 7th year for State Senator Kathy Sheran has brought forth legislation for upgrades and improvements to the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

The city of Mankato seeks a $14.5 million bonding appropriation to improve the Minnesota State Arena and Expand the Event Center Auditorium.

The Mankato Arena Improvements and event center expansion bonding bill was presented by Senator Kathy Sheran in a committee hearing earlier this afternoon."

Senator Kathy Sheran along with Mankato City Manager, Pat Hentges and Greater Mankato Growth President Jonathan Zierdt conveyed the importance of the Civic Center improvements after struggling to receive support from the state for the last several years.

Senator Sheran says, "It's very difficult to make the same request over and over again to find that it gets vetoed again or for some reason gets caught up in some political struggle."
Supporters say the increased civic center space would mean more than $50 million economic impact annually and create more than 450 construction jobs.

Senator Sheran says, "The Governor has mentioned he supports this investment and has the understanding that Mankato has waited a long time to get a response from the state. I think we are positioned very well to be successful. It just depends on whether or not we are able to move forward with a bonding bill this legislative session."

Greater Mankato Growth joined forces with regional centers from Rochester and St. Cloud.
They each support expansions in the individual communities.

Jonathon Zierdt says, "It's not about which one over the other it's about the collective impact these regional centers have in the economic development hat spark these kinds of investments. This is the first time where we have partnered with a project of this magnitude, and in a unified way recognize the importance of these projects."

However, with or without support, Mankato will replace the ice system at the civic center.
Pat Hentges says, "I'm in the process of bidding $3million that has to be completed this summer by taking up the ice floor. So we are at a critical stage both in the hockey program and putting in this new ice floor."

The decision of whether or not there will be a bonding bill is expected to come sometime after Easter break.
Today bill was tabled to be included in an overall proposal for bonding projects. It will also need to be presented in the Bonding Finance Committee hearing.