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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Ron Johnson AWOL In Oshkosh; Ducks Hometown Newspaper Editorial Board and Debate | Main | Ron Johnson's Jobs Plan Brainfart Leads to First-Ever Green Bay Press-Gazette Endorsement of Russ Feingold »

October 19, 2010


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Pete Gruett

Considering the fact that pending maintenance costs for the civic center were actually greater ten years ago then the ones for Overture are now ($15 million over 5 years for the CC vs. $19 million over 15 for Overture), I'm not sure I see your point. If we could afford that then, why can't we afford this now with ten years of free use behind us? Madison is a much larger city than it was when the Civic Center was built and it's still growing, yet we keep insisting we're some sort of tiny midwestern hamlet saddled with a fancy, New York arts center.

If we can muster enough maturity to keep our heads and keep this thing open, we might yet grow up before someone decides to pour a concrete slurry floor over the stone and buy a bunch of sconces at Menards.

Tom Bozzo

When considering large sums spread out over long time periods, it's useful to offer some sense of scale. If city budgets stay about where they are in inflation-adjusted terms, the 40-year city capital budget expenditures will be on the order of $6.5-7 billion. So $120 million in capital costs for Overture is less than 2% of future capital budgets.

Likewise, a $2.5 million city subsidy would represent a $700,000 increase over the current ($1.8 million) subsidy, or about 0.3% of the operating budget.

So the argument that the facility is "beyond the resources of the city" is questionable at best. The real issue to address is whether the percent or so of city expenditures above what would have been spent on the old Civic Center is better spent elsewhere.

One other question, that perhaps might be addressed in the 'structure' post. If the (legitimate) concern is accountability of the operator, why not give 201 State a limited-term concession?

One Thin Dime

I agree that if the City is going to own it, the City should get to decide who runs it, not the people who drove it off the financial cliff in the first place.

Noel Radomski

Excellent information, thank you.

Bob D'Angelo

MCAD and 201 State were not responsible the the current situation. Investing at the wrong time by the current owner The Overture Development Corporation caused by the problem with the banks. The operating budget is completely separate and is supported by ticket sales, rentals, fees and a contract with the City to operate the place in the community interest. Thur far the city has saved about $10,000,000 in capital maintenance costs for the old Overture Center.

The real problem is the long term maintenance of the Center. Paul's figure of $120,000,000 over the next forty years may actually be low using examples of what costs were incurred by other centers facing renovation over the years... To solve that pending obligation will take a very substantial endowment.

Linda Baldwin

Just to set the record straight.

The City of Madison wasn't involved in the bank debt negotiations because they refused to be. Time and time again, the Mayor indicated that the city would not be a part of the debt settlement. He also indicated that once the debut was settled, the city would work with Overture to determine a sustainable future.

So members of the volunteer and appointed boards, in order to save the Overture Center from going dark or being foreclosed on, moved forward with negotiations with the financial institutions to resolve the debt issue. Conditions of that settlement were imposed by the parties involved and the city was made aware of those conditions during the negotiations.

Paul Beard


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