Another Step Closer to the Good Life

August 5, 2014

UW-Eau Claire announces major gift in support of new event and recreation center

Reprinted from UW-Eau Claire News Release

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation is thrilled to announce the largest outright gift to the Foundation in its nearly 60-year history. Blugold alumni John and Carolyn Sonnentag, through their philanthropic foundation, have pledged approximately $10 million in land and money to develop a multipurpose events center that would accommodate at least 7,500 people and replace Zorn Arena as UW-Eau Claire’s largest events venue. The Sonnentag Foundation has committed to transfer ownership of 21 acres along Menomonie Street in Eau Claire to Blugold Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. The 21 acres currently are owned by County Materials Corp., the Sonnentags’ third-generation family-owned concrete manufacturing company. “Words cannot adequately express the gratitude we feel for the Sonnentags’ generosity in making this gift that will have such a significant and transformative impact both for UW-Eau Claire and for our region,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. “The goals of both the university and the citizens of Eau Claire to bring a large events venue to our community are one very large step closer to being realized thanks to the Sonnentag Foundation and the generous spirit of John and Carolyn Sonnentag.”

Through their foundation, the Sonnentags, of Mount Dora, Florida, and formerly of Marathon City, Wisconsin, also have pledged a significant monetary contribution in support of the new events center. The Sonnentag Foundation gifts are being recognized as contributions to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s Power of Possible campaign, a comprehensive campaign to raise $60 million in support of people, programs and places at UW-Eau Claire by Dec. 31, 2016, during the year of the university’s centennial celebration.

To learn more about the Sonnentags’ gift and future plans for the site, go to the news release.

Ben Richgruber, executive director, Eau Claire Regional Arts Council: “This is great news for the Eau Claire community, we are fulfilling the goals stated in the Clear Vision study and echoed by Eau Claire County residents in the The Good Life: A Cultural Direction for Eau Claire County. When I served as co-chair on the Clear Vision committee, we all firmly believed there was an immediate need for both a cultural arts center and a large capacity event center. Eau Claire can and should have both the Confluence Arts Center and the County Materials Event and Recreation Complex. Bravo! UW-Eau Claire and the Sonnentags for your vision and commitment to Eau Claire.