Will this be Mayo Civic Center's year?

Posted at: 04/08/2013 7:06 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Governor Dayton announced his bonding proposal today. Will this be the year the Mayo Civic Center gets the money it needs to expand?

This is the 7th year the city of Rochester has asked for state money to fund an expansion and it’s been something Governor Dayton has pushed for since he’s been in office. Governor Dayton wants to provide $35 million to help expand of the Mayo Civic Center. But that is just half of the project’s $70 million price tag.

"Focusing on downtown is crucial and it needs to be ongoing,” said Governor Dayton.

Dayton wants to focus on downtowns throughout Minnesota.
"Downtown Rochester, Downtown Mankato, Downtown St. Cloud, these are very significant regional centers,” said Dayton.

But it’s a common theme. The governor also proposed expanding the Mayo Civic Center as part of his last bonding bill. However, this time could be different.

"I think there's some level of momentum there from the standpoint of the local industry and Destination Medical Center and this kind of goes together somewhat like a glove,” said Republican Senator Dave Senjem of Rochester.

"Today to see that it's in the governor’s proposal, I understand that it's gonna be in the House and that we should get the local piece moving is really good news,” said Democrat Representative Tina Liebling of Rochester. Liebling says that local piece would include an increased lodging tax, something she plans on proposing soon. That’s because in order for Rochester to get the $35 million from the state, it would have to provide at least an equal amount.

"It brings people in both from around the state, but especially from outside the state and so when people come into the state, they stay in hotels locally and having a tax on those hotel stays. It's just really logical,” said Liebling.

"There is some level of local and community pressure to get this done. Whether it's a matter of 35 million or perhaps less than that as we move forward,” said Senator Senjem.

Where the proposal goes now, is up to the legislature.

"This is the start of this journey, where it ends up, we'll see in a month or so. The governor's done his job and now it's up to the legislature to do theirs,” said Senjem.

"I've been mystified, frankly, for the last two sessions why the leadership couldn't understand that or didn't want to, but I'm optimistic and hopeful that we'll get a better reception this year,” said Dayton.

At a state hearing earlier this year, The Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau says the lack of expansion cost Rochester a lot of money. They put the figure at $85 million.