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Alliant Energy Center History

1896 – The Agricultural Society and Dane County purchase 250 acres of land at the current site for an Agricultural Fair.

1938 – The last Fair sponsored by the Agricultural Society is held.

1941 – Dane County pays off the mortgage for the site and retains ownership.

1949-1951 – Roads, parking lots, sewer and water, a heating plant and kitchen/bathroom facilities are built, moving closer to the advent of a full service venue.

1951 – The Dane County Fair returns to the Dane County Expo Center (now known as the Alliant Energy Center) where it continues today.

1954 – The 22,000 square foot Arena is built and remains today as the only building still standing from this era, but has since been remodeled.

1962 – The Youth Building was built and housed the 4-H offices and now serves as the Alliant Energy Center Administration building.

1965 – The Expo Center is officially named the Dane County Exposition Center but has since been renamed the Alliant Energy Center.

1967 – Veterans Memorial Coliseum is built with its early clientele including UW Men’s Hockey, Zor Shrine Circus, World Dairy Expo, Dane County Junior Fair, The ABC National Bowling Tournament, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Tony Bennett and Duke Ellington.

1974 – The first Exposition Center Commission is appointed to outline construction and development for expansion of the venue.

1978 ­– An addition to the Youth Building is built and the new facility is named the Forum.  At the time this facility offered the area’s largest facilities for trade shows, banquets and other public functions.  The Forum was replaced with the construction of the Exhibition Hall in 1995.

1992 – The 25th anniversary of Veterans Memorial Coliseum is celebrated, at this point over 16 million people had entered the Coliseum doors to attend a vast array of events.

1995 – The 255,000 square foot Exhibition Hall opens as the largest convention facility in Wisconsin and soon attracts larger regional, national and international conventions and trade shows. 

1996 – Arena Building is renovated.

2000 – Venue naming rights are sold to Alliant Energy Corporation and the campus is officially renamed the Alliant Energy Center. 

2002 – Willow Island is developed at Alliant Energy Center as an outdoor venue.

2003 – Development of the 29-acre Willow Island progresses, allowing the space to accommodate a wide variety of outdoor events including festivals, concerts, corporate outings, car shows and cultural gatherings.

2005 – Exhibition Hall celebrates its 10th Anniversary as a significant attribute to The Center and Madison, WI by booking over 300 events annually that fill more than 60,000 hotel rooms.

2005 – Exhibition Hall undergoes an energy efficiency project to reduce environmental impact by adding high-speed trade show cargo doors, energy-efficient floor lighting, new building steam traps, an automated digital building cooling system controls and installation of a new energy management system.

2007 – Alliant Energy Center receives Travel Green Certification from Travel Green Wisconsin for efforts to reduce its ecological footprint.