Try 1 month for 99¢

A bulldozer moves land at the Woodside Sports Complex in the town of Lemonweir on May 12. Woodside is working on bringing a large concert series to the area for Labor Day weekend.

While it’s not official yet, plans are underway at Woodside Sports Complex to end the summer on a rock n’ roll note with a Latin twist.

Woodside is planning to bring in Mexican rock band Mana for a large concert series Labor Day weekend. Event organizers first presented the idea to the Juneau County board in March, and while the concert proposal still has a few hurdles to climb before getting approval from county and town of Lemonweir officials, Woodside representatives are excited to bring the event to the Mauston area.

Chris Lechnir, vice president of business operations for Woodside, said Mana would headline the event, so it’s likely to include other Latino artists. Lechnir stopped short of confirming Mana will play in September because the two parties are working out contract stipulations.

“They’re called the U2 of Latin music,” Lechnir said. “I believe last year on their world tour they sold 13 million tickets. They sold out many of the top venues in the country.”

Mana’s origins date back to 1975 when founding members formed Sombrero Verde (Green Hat) and played covers of classics from The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The band went through a few lineup changes and, in 1986, changed its name to Mana, which in Polynesian means “positive energy.” The change was a good one. The band released its first album under the new name in 1987 and rose to international fame.

“Those are the type of bands that we’re going to sign,” Lechnir said. “I went down to listen to them last fall at the AllState Arena near Chicago and they sold it out two straight nights with over 13,000 people. They are a top group in the Latin world.”

Woodside hopes the first concert will be a success and pave the way for future shows. The large sports complex, located a few miles east of Mauston, is constructing an outdoor venue that would seat up to 30,000 spectators. Event organizers assure there will also be space for parking. Woodside’s goal is to have three shows per year, showcasing Latin, country and classic rock artists.

Lechnir said owner Damon Zumwalt is bringing in “top flight” concert organizers to handle logistics. TMEG Productions from Las Vegas is handling show planning, while Cornerstone Parking is working on traffic flow and parking analysis. Lechnir said Cornerstone handles parking for large sporting events like the Ryder Cup, and the PGA Championship, which was in Kohler, Wisconsin in 2015.

“Kohler and Mauston is kind of the same thing; it feeds off one interstate, one county highway and they handled over 30,000 people per day at that event,” Lechnir said. “Damon is spending a lot of money to bring in the top minds in the industry to make sure this is run as best as it can.”

When planning a large concert, especially for the first time, security can be a major issue. Zumwalt, though, has built a career in security coverage for large events. He formed Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) in college and the security firm has covered large concerts like Coachella and Bonnaroo. The Juneau County Sheriff’s Office also plans to patrol the area with help from local agencies.

“He’s very comfortable and is absolutely convinced we will have the best security in the country,” Lechnir said of Zumwalt. “And it’s his company so he’s going to make sure it’s done really well.”

Terry Whipple, director of the Juneau County Economic Development Corporation, is always looking for new business ventures. Whipple is working closely with Woodside to bring the event to the area.

“From working on security with large concert events, Damon got to know quite a few names and promoters in the music industry,” Whipple said. “So it’s a natural thing for him to reach out and try and bring in some pretty big artists to the facility.”

While the full economic impact of the concert won’t be felt for months, Whipple said it’s likely to be a boon for the county’s economy. Whipple believes “day trippers,” people who travel to an event for a day and go home, will bring in about $58 per day, according to the state Department of Tourism. Attendees who stay overnight for an event generate about $184 a day.

“Let’s say if they we have a total of 25,000-30,000 people at a concert for one day, they would spend an average of around $4.5 million in the community and then that boils down to about $225,000 that is recouped in retail sales tax revenue,” Whipple said. “We know a majority of that goes to the state, but we would be able to keep a half percent of that in the county, so that’s more than $20,000 per day that stays here or close to the county.”

Some residents near Woodside have expressed concern with the concert. Residents in the town of Lemonweir believe noise, heavy traffic, along with security and garbage issues, are not worth the economic impact.

“We expect some pushback because it’s hard for people to imagine what it’s going to look like and be like,” Whipple said. “We run into this every time something new comes in, whether it’s a new prison, ethanol plant, a 3,000-head dairy. People can’t imagine what it’s going to be like, so they go to the worst assumptions.”

Town of Lemonweir chairman Marv Havlik said town officials and neighbors near Woodside met with Zumwalt a few months ago to discuss the event. After a lengthy discussion, the town’s zoning committee passed a resolution 7-0 approving a conditional use permit for the concert.

“The complaints mainly were the traffic, noise, whether there was going to be garbage dumped along the highway and those concerns,” Havlik said. “But we heard both sides of the story and each individual made up their mind and decided to go for it. It just felt like it was something that would be good for the entire township.”

Garth Brooks rumors

Woodside was reportedly in talks to bring country superstar Garth Brooks in for a future concert series, but due to a scheduling conflict, talks have broken down.

Zumwalt is close to people in Brooks’ camp and Lechnir believes there’s a possibility Brooks could come to the Mauston area at some point.

“Just the fact they were close to making a deal shows the caliber of artists Damon is capable of bringing here,” Whipple said.

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask