MERRILL, WI (WSAU) - A group of Lincoln County people are looking at last year’s storm damage at the County Fairgrounds as an opportunity to improve the site. The storms destroyed the grandstand area. Now, a Fairgrounds Users Group has been studying ways to better utilize and market the site.
Dale Christenson is with that group. He says they are looking into constructing a large, multi-purpose building instead of simply another grandstand. "With the grandstand going down, we're looking at this as a great opportunity, and what we're looking at and what we'd like to see done is what we're calling an expo center."
Christenson says the year-round building would have more seats and be large enough to host fair exhibits, and also host the rodeo, concerts, monster trucks, motocross events, and the demolition derby. "It would be totally enclosed. Our floor space on it right now in the drawings would be 150 feet wide by 250 feet long, and there would be seating available for approximately 3,400 to 3,600 people." That is more seats than the old grandstand. Christenson says they will likely have to address parking issues if an expo center is built.
A local business is working on the preliminary designs, and cost estimates are not quite complete yet. Lincoln County has about 1.2 million dollars from the grandstand insurance, and another anonymous local contributor has pledged a million dollars to the cause.
Wednesday evening’s meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln County Service Center on Sales Street in Merrill. Christenson invites anyone interested to attend. "We have been working with a local industry in town that has kind of put together some drawings on it, and he is going to be there to answer questions on the facility that we're looking at doing. We are also going ahead with the fairgrounds usage committee and the management side of this facility."
Any new building project will require cooperation between the Fair Board, the User’s Group, and the Lincoln County Board.