Work is underway on the site that will be home to the Sonnentag Center. The center includes a major event facility, a 24-hour fitness facility, a fieldhouse with artificial turf, academic space for UW-Eau Claire’s kinesiology program, and a Mayo Clinic Health System clinical location.
The UW-Eau Claire Foundation announced in August 2014 a commitment of approximately $10 million in money and land from UW-Eau Claire alumni John and Carolyn Sonnentag and their family foundation. The gift was intended to help make possible the development of a facility where UW-Eau Claire and community organizations can hold larger-scale events than can be accommodated by the university's existing facilities. The 21 acres along the Chippewa River donated by the Sonnentags was being used as a manufacturing and sales site by their company, County Materials Corp., a third-generation family-owned concrete manufacturing business.
Blugold Real Estate has acquired additional land adjacent to the site, which is south of Menomonie Street across from the entrance to Carson Park. From east to west, the Sonnentag Center site now includes the former locations of Student Transit-Eau Claire, County Materials Corp. and Fabick Cat. The donated land’s proximity to existing sports and recreation facilities, including the John and Fay Menard YMCA Tennis Center, Hobbs Ice Arena, and Carson Park’s multiple sporting venues, position the Sonnentag Center as a key development in Eau Claire’s existing sports corridor.
As currently envisioned, the center will include:
- a major event facility with seating to accommodate 5,100 guests;
- UW-Eau Claire wellness and recreation facilities;
- a fieldhouse with artificial turf suitable for athletic, club and intramural sport practices;
- academic space for UW-Eau Claire’s kinesiology department;
- a Mayo Clinic Health System clinical location offering sports medicine, human performance enhancement, and imaging services;
- surface parking to serve the entire complex; and
- land suitable for development of private businesses that could complement and serve activities at the event and recreation complex.
The event facility concept calls for a highly versatile design that would accommodate multiple types of events and activities, including serving as a home for UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s basketball games and other athletics tournaments, large indoor concerts and other entertainment or sports events. Mayo Clinic Health System will construct a new clinical location as part of the center, where they plan to offer sports medicine, human performance enhancement, and imaging services. In addition, academic space for portions of UW-Eau Claire’s kinesiology department is included in the facility adjacent to the clinical location, further facilitating opportunities for collaborative research. UW-Eau Claire students also will gain access to a much-needed fitness facility and artificially turfed fieldhouse that will alleviate pressure on overutilized and undersized on-campus recreation and sport facilities.
Project partners include Blugold Real Estate, Mayo Clinic Health System-Northwest Wisconsin, the City of Eau Claire, Visit Eau Claire, and UW-Eau Claire, with efforts coordinated through Eau Claire Community Complex, Inc., the non-profit, non-stock corporation that will build and own the center and lease space to the key tenants.
Construction of the Sonnentag Center is anticipated to begin in July 2020. The Chippewa Valley YMCA, originally a partner in Eau Claire Community Complex, Inc. and the Sonnentag Center, announced they were choosing not to participate in construction after assessing their fundraising policies in December 2019. In January 2020, the city of Eau Claire signed a letter of intent to participate in the project in conjunction with Visit Eau Claire. This partnership allowed the event facility’s seating capacity to be increased from 4,100 to 5,100 — a key number for attracting major events — and ensured Visit Eau Claire will have access to five basketball courts so the city can bid to host major youth sports tournaments and competitions.
For more information, contact:
- Kimera Way, Blugold Real Estate Foundation, 715-836-5180
- Brad Kemis, Market and Johnson, 715-832-8752