Bradley: Local Financial Struggles Forced Convention Center Cut

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The Hulman Center first opened in 1973. The Hulman Center first opened in 1973.

Indiana State University President Dan Bradley says a pared-down plan for the aging Hulman Center could move forward within the next couple of months, maybe sooner. Bradley tells Inside INdiana Business the decision to cut a convention center addition from what was a $75 million plan came down to the ability of Terre Haute and Vigo County partners to "make it work financially." He says work is now underway to secure approval from the ISU Board of Trustees, Indiana Commission for Higher Education and State Budget Committee to use the $37.5 million already allocated by the General Assembly in 2015 toward the reworked vision.

Bradley says the now-$40 million plans are not ideal, but "at least we're moving forward." He says a new convention center at some point is not completely out of the picture. "Our hope is that the convention center could be added sometime in the future and our goal as we work with the architect will be to make sure that that can be done in a fairly efficient manner in terms of how the buildings can work together," he said. "So if the city and county are able to move forward in the future, we want to be able to make that an easy addition."

Without the added convention center space, the goal is to broaden the use of the existing center, which was designed solely for sports in the 1970s. Bradley says a large portion of the renovation funds will center on modernization, including updated electrical and mechanical infrastructure, as well as creating a more accessible environment for attendees with disabilities.

The adjusted renovation plans are slated to go before the board this month, then to the higher ed commission, then state legislators. "If all goes well, we could actually begin construction in April or May of next year," he said. Bradley is in his final year at the helm of ISU and says the last thing he wants is to leave a project of this scale for his successor to deal with. The more than 40-year-old Hulman Center, Bradley says, is an asset to the university and community, "so I think everyone is going to be very, very happy when it's done."

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