For years Brown has envisioned developing the nearly 48 acres of vacant land adjacent to the casino and owned by the tribe. Plans for the state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex include indoor and outdoor playing fields, a hotel and a cultural center. Also being considered is a conference center.
Brown said, “We considered building a big-box retail store, an industrial park and even a corporate headquarters.” He hired local planning and community development firm, Urban Assets, to conduct a high-level study to determine the type of development best suited for the city of Madison and the Ho-Chunk Nation. Brown said they are looking for a regional destination, and something unique that shares Madison’s original inhabitant’s heritage with visitors, according to Madison Magazine.
While it appears that the city and key players, including planning and parks executives and Madison tourism, are on board there are issues that must be dealt with before the project can move forward. The biggest issue for the city is funding, with traffic concerns next on the list. In addition, the plan hinges on Madison agreeing to play host to some fields at the city-owned Yahara Hills Golf Course, which is next to the proposed site. Brown said, “The city will have to make a decision on whether they want to surrender some of the holes for the project.” He added, “We would not necessarily pursue the sports complex portion of the project unless we get a full commitment from the city to build the adjacent outdoor fields.”
Monthly ongoing talks between the tribe and city officials are in keeping with the tribe’s goal of the first phase of the project potentially opening in 2018. Progress is being made by Ho-Chunk whose architects for the project are drafting a master conceptual plan. Also close to completion is a wetland delineation report.
Just how much time is needed is uncertain, but time has managed to heal the nearly decade long strained relationship between the Ho-Chunk tribe and the city over Dane County residents opposition of the tribe’s proposed gaming expansion. That history aside, the Ho-Chunk is hopeful that the two governments can work together to bring its vision for the sports complex to fruition.