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CENTERS to lead operations of County Materials Complex for UW-Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has selected CENTERS to operate the County Materials Complex. CENTERS, a professional management firm that specializes in operations management for colleges, universities and other nonprofit entities, will lead the day-to-day operations of the complex on behalf of the university in partnership with UW-Eau Claire administration and staff.

The complex, which will include the John and Carolyn Sonnentag Fieldhouse and the Sonnentag Event Center, will provide sport and event spaces that will serve UW-Eau Claire intercollegiate athletes and students, the Eau Claire community and outside rental groups. The multiuse facility will be the largest indoor event venue in northwest Wisconsin. Key components include an event center with a capacity of 5,000; four sport courts; 120-yard indoor turf fieldhouse; fitness and wellness center; UW-Eau Claire athletics offices; and the Mayo Clinic Health System Diagnostic Imaging and Sports Medicine Center.

“CENTERS has a proven track record of operating world-class facilities, and we are excited to work with their team to ensure our students, our community and residents across northwest Wisconsin are able to enjoy and support the County Materials Complex,” says Grace Crickette, UW-Eau Claire vice chancellor for finance and administration.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation accepted a historic gift of $70 million from UW-Eau Claire alumni John and Carolyn Sonnentag and their family foundation in 2021. The Sonnentags gave more than 25 acres of land along the Chippewa River to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in 2014. The gift was intended to help UW-Eau Claire replace Zorn Arena and provide value to the broader community through large events and performances.

In addition, UW-Eau Claire students passed a referendum in 2021 supporting a fee of $90 per semester for use and maintenance of the complex. Project partners include Blugold Real Estate, Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin, city of Eau Claire, Visit Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire. The complex is envisioned as a beacon of sustainable design, with all components benefiting from forward-thinking construction and utility concepts. 

“CENTERS was founded to partner with colleges and universities to maximize assets like the County Materials Complex. We are excited to work with UW-Eau Claire and the project team to deliver the optimum experience for all campus and community stakeholders,” says Paul Brailsford, founder and CEO of CENTERS.

Ayres Associates provides full programming, planning and design. Market & Johnson is building the 172,000-square-foot facility. CENTERS has been hired to manage the day-to-day operations, including staffing, booking and scheduling of events; building and equipment repairs; capital improvements; and annual budget forecasting. Construction began in 2022 and the building is scheduled to be completed in spring 2024.

For inquiries about booking events, contact the UW-Eau Claire campus liaison at For questions about operations or employment at the complex, contact Mike Schneider, CENTERS assistant vice president of operations, at

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UW‐Eau Claire, an institution of approximately 10,000 students and 1,400 faculty and staff, is consistently recognized as a top comprehensive university in the Midwest. UW-Eau Claire is widely known as a leader in faculty‐undergraduate research and study abroad experiences. UW-Eau Claire faculty, staff and students strive for excellence in liberal education and select graduate and professional programs through commitment to teaching and learning and dedication to core values of diversity, sustainability, leadership and innovation.

CENTERS is a professional management firm that specializes in operations management for colleges, universities and other nonprofit entities. CENTERS’ management portfolio consists of campus centers that encompass sports venues, recreation and wellness facilities, student centers, performing arts venues, conference facilities and more. CENTERS’ portfolio consists of 12 other universities across the country. More information about CENTERS can be found at