Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison is known for their gaming, but after two years of planning, they are looking to score big in the sports scene by developing a new sports complex near the Dejope gaming complex.
“An entertainment district is what we envision it being,” Ho-Chunk Executive Manager Daniel Brown said.
The Ho-Chunk Nation wants to use 40 plus acres to build a hotel, four-story parking lot, convention center and heritage center on undeveloped land.
As a part of those plans, they want to partner with the city of Madison to build an indoor and outdoor sports complex.
Brown said the partnership would help strengthen the relationship between the nation and the city. “We have had a little unsavory history in our past, and this is something that would go a long way in healing,” he said.
Ho-Chunk and the city’s parks department own land next to each other.
Brown said under the current plans, Ho-Chunk would build an indoor sports complex, while the city would use their land to build 12 outdoor sports fields. MUGA pitch installers are also being hired so the field can be utilized regardless of the weather. The city’s park department said the facility would help accommodate the city’s increased need for fields in the area.
“This growth in demand has led to scheduling of fields within neighborhood parks that do not include the desired amenities for these reservations and can limit access for neighborhood residents. The lack of a sports complex has also created lost opportunities for larger tournaments and events that have a positive economic impact for the city,” said Ann Shea, Madison Parks public information officer.
Funding for a feasibility study passed Tuesday by the common council will determine the need for the potential complex, as well as the financial feasibility. Council approved $37,500 for the study through borrowing money, which raised concerns for District 15 Alder David Ahrens.
“Traditionally, the city or any government borrows money for one purpose and that’s to buy things that last a long time. So, we don’t borrow things that we need to operate our city on a day to day basis, and doing studies is one of those things. It doesn’t last a very long time. It’s a one shot deal, and it should be included in the parks department budget and should be included in those department needs,” Ahrens said.
The money is half of what the study cost. Ho-Chunk is responsible for covering the rest of the cost of the study. Ahrens said he does not oppose the study itself but is concerned with the way the study was funded. Brown said they need the parks department’s partnership to complete the full project to include the outdoor fields.
“The partnership, I think, is natural and I just like the idea of an Indian nation partnering with a municipality for something like this,” he said.
According to Brown, there is no timeline on when that study might be completed.