Groups Leaving Civic Center Due to Lack of Space

Posted at: 04/19/2013 6:50 PM
Updated at: 04/19/2013 6:56 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 News) -- Little Aubrielle is the youngest of six children, and she is next in line to be homeschooled by her parents, Angela and Michael Watschke.

"We have the opportunity to establish our beliefs from a young age," said Angela.

Each year, the family attends the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators conference. The event rotates cities. Every third year, it's held in Rochester, at the Mayo Civic Center.

"Out of all three venues, this is the most cozy. So, yeah, it definitely could use a bigger venue," said Angela.

In other words, it's too small. At least for this group.

"We use every available space. In fact we're even using the warehouse behind the civic center, trying to put things in and we're overflowing into the hotel ballroom so we're maxing out the space," said organizer David Watkins.

Watkins says the conference is a growing event. And if there isn't more space, they may have to look elsewhere.

"We're working the best we can to come back, but it's getting tight for us," said Watkins.

It's a problem Civic Center officials acknowledge.

"It's hard because we think Rochester has a lot to offer. The skyway system, all of the amenities, the parking, lots of downtown restaurants, things to do," said Donna Drews, the executive director of the Mayo Civic Center.  

The governor acknowledges the lack of space problem as well. As we've reporter, he's proposing to bond 35 million dollars to help fund a Civic Center expansion. It may be the only thing that brings back large groups like the association of Christian Home Educators, and Aubrielle Watschke.

While the governor has already proposed his bonding bill, it still has to be approved by the legislator.