Costs spike for Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall expansion

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Preliminary renovation plans are underway for the Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, but area leaders are concerned about the cost.

Initial reports of the development estimated the project would cost between $70 million and $90 million. But according to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, a new estimate would cost more than $130 million.

“The new cost estimates are concerning to me. That's a lot of money for a facility,” he says. “So I think it's time we look at pairing it back, and look at what's absolutely necessary and see how much that would cost.”

According to Parisi, the county should not move forward without partners committed to the project.

“What I’ve done is asked the Alliant Energy Center director to go back to the drawing board, as it were, and look at what we can do that’s incremental and affordable,” he says.

Sharon Corrigan, chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, says factors like high labor costs and steel tariffs could have raised the cost. She says it is normal to see this much flexibility in a price.

“It's pretty typical when you look at a big project like this that you have to go back and do some value engineering to reduce the final estimate on that. It's a process,” Corrigan tells NBC15 News. “And that's why it takes a little bit of time to do things like this well.”

Corrigan says she hopes the final budget would be about $100 million, calling the project “too important” to quit now.

“If we don’t invest in this campus, we’re going to see this campus fade. And it’s too important to our community. It’s too important to the agricultural community around here and to the City of Madison,” Corrigan says.

NBC15 staff reached out to the project’s developer, Strang Inc., for a current budget on the project. Reps there say they will release numbers Tuesday morning.

Another Alliant Energy Center committee meeting on the budget is not scheduled until February.