About 300 Rochesterites traveled to the State Capitol on Tuesday with the goal of building support for expanding the Mayo Civic Center.
The theme of this year’s 11th annual Rochester on Tour event was “Momentum” — something participants chanted in the Capitol Rotunda for lawmakers to hear. Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brad Jones said city officials, convention representatives and Mayo Civic Center commissioners planned to fan out and meet with key lawmakers to make the case for $37 million in state funding for the project. Key to the pitch is the idea that the 188,000-square-foot expansion project will help build off of Mayo Clinic’s planned 20-year expansion known as Destination Medical Center. The expansion would create state-of-the-art convention space that could accommodate national and international medical conferences.
“We are developing a convention corridor to connect to the downtown and the clinic,” Jones said. “We need this asset, the convention center, to get built so we can develop that corridor.”
That project, in turn, could help speed up DMC, leading to the $200 to $300 million in development within that corridor, Jones said.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton included funding for the Mayo Civic Center in his bonding recommendations. The DFL-controlled House and Senate have yet to release their construction spending recommendations.
Among those making the trek to St. Paul was former Rochester Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jon Eckhoff. He has attended all 11 Rochester on Tours and has seen the event grow in size and importance over the years.
“This has been very important for Rochester. It’s important to educate legislators from other areas of the state about Rochester,” he said. “They’ve got their own perceptions of Rochester, many of which need some education. And that’s our opportunity to do it.”