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PORTAGE, Wis. - A $25 million horse arena, complete with riding trails, exhibit halls and other extras, could be coming to Portage.

Developer Bob LaDow has approached the city on more than one occasion with an interest in building the project on a 200-acre parcel of land on Portage's north side, according to Mayor Bill Tierney.

"Bob has a proposal in front of us that would bring a lot of people into Portage, he tells me almost weekend," Tierney says.

The economic benefit to the project has Tierney and other city officials interested.

"Any community would be happy to have a project like this, because it would have a positive impact on the local economy," City Administrator Shawn Murphy says. "For the most part, something like this would bring visitors to the city of Portage."

Higher numbers of traffic also has the city pausing to take a second look at the project.

"A thousand people a weekend - how does our infrastructure support that?" Tierney says.

Patty Johnson is a horse trainer, and owner of Ironhorse Training Center outside Portage. She says she's shown horses at facilities that bring millions of dollars in economic benefits to the cities they reside in, but she also agrees Portage should examine the project closely.

"If it's a facility that's run correctly, there seems to be a lot of associations that are looking for new venues for their shows," Johnson says. "Run incorrectly, they don't last long."

The proposal is in the very earliest stages yet - city officials are working with LaDow on a pre-development agreement, going over the financial aspects and ensuring Portage could sustain such a large-scale project. The next step would include City Council weighing in.

Murphy says the earliest the city might see construction on the project would be 2017.

"We are optimistically skeptical on this one," Murphy says. "Like any project, we want to make sure the project itself will work."

"It's a great theory, it's a great idea, but it'll take some time to work everything out," Tierney says.

Portage considers $25 million horse arena development

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