BY Daniel KRAMER
Mark Skogen walked into the Epic Occasion Middle on a chilly Friday afternoon together with his telephone in his hand.
His grey hair is cropped shut on the perimeters, longer on high and combed again.
If it weren’t for the Epic Occasion Middle emblem on his black down jacket, Skogen might simply be mistaken for a band member in one of many many acts he books.
At 53, he’s trim and his Hollywood beauty do not fairly pair with the picture of a third-generation grocer who runs 40 Competition Meals shops throughout the state with 7,500 workers.
Born in Onalaska, Wis. In 1969, Skogen was a standout basketball participant at Onalaska Excessive Faculty the place he helped the Hilltoppers win a state championship as a senior in 1988.
From there, he went to Viterbo College in La Crosse the place he performed basketball and baseball.
In basketball, he was essentially the most prolific scorer in Viterbo historical past—as much as that time—and as a senior was named convention participant of the 12 months.
Skogen was inducted into the V-Hawks Wall of Fame six years after graduating and is one in every of two gamers to have his jersey quantity retired.
In 1995, he moved to Inexperienced Bay and in late 2020 turned the proprietor of the Inexperienced Bay Booyah baseball staff (later renamed the Inexperienced Bay Rockers).
In 2021, Skogen opened the EPIC Occasion Middle.
“We opened proper within the pandemic so the primary exhibits have been seated in pods,” he mentioned. “So, you understand, a really completely different expertise, however nothing else was happening.”
Skogen went on to say that he is at all times preferred music and spent numerous time with associates going to exhibits throughout the nation.
“And we felt like Inexperienced Bay might use a facility just like what we have been seeing: 2,000 capability type of room, and after touring the nation fairly a bit for 5 – 6 years, we might see what was good in a venue and what wasn’t ‘t good,” he mentioned. “So, after we had the possibility to construct our personal, we simply went down that checklist of issues that we preferred and made certain to keep away from the issues we did not like and I feel we just about hit on every part we have been in search of. ”
EPIC has two inexperienced rooms for performers to hang around in earlier than and after the exhibits; there’s a half-court basketball gymnasium for them to mess around, and there are laundry amenities to allow them to be washing and drying their garments whereas engaged on their soar shot.
Transferring ahead, Skogen is placing in a skate park subsequent door.
“There are numerous bands which have guys that like to skate,” he mentioned. “So, you understand, we have the gymnasium, we have the load room, we have an ideal greenroom setup, and now they are going to have the ability to go over and skate as properly. And you understand, these guys dwelling on the street — guys and women, — it could get darn boring. So after they have one thing to mess around and do, it simply makes it a greater expertise for them.”
Skogen jokes that his love of music would possibly come from the truth that he cannot play an instrument, sing or dance.
“However, you understand, music simply type of takes you away from stress,” he mentioned. “It additionally makes you happier when issues are going properly and it is simply type of a bit of magic. Magic to the ears that impacts your temper.”
Rising up in Onalaska, he mentioned two of his favourite bands have been AC/DC and Metallica.
Talking of Metallica, the heavy steel rockers have been the final band to play on the Carlton West Theater earlier than it burned down in 1986.
The 1,000 capability venue additionally hosted memorable performers like Bob Hope, Johnny Money, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Warren Zevon and BB King.
Within the 12 months and a half that EPIC has been open, the two,100-capacity venue has only recently hosted Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley, finest generally known as the unique lead guitarist and co-founding member of Kiss.
Different memorable performers embrace Low cost Trick, Stone Temple Pilots and George Thorogood & The Destroyers.
Apparently, the primary Competition Meals in Inexperienced Bay was constructed upon the location of the Carlton West.
“The soil was so dangerous as a result of the ash from the Carlton was nonetheless underground and so we needed to excavate that,” Skogen mentioned.
Simply down the block from the EPIC Occasion Middle, Skogen’s minor-league baseball staff, The Inexperienced Bay Rockers, makes its residence at Capital Credit score Union Park.
The Rockers have gone via a collection of title modifications just lately, with the present deal with clearly reflecting Skogen’s love of music.
“It is fairly cool that they ended up being subsequent to one another,” he mentioned. “That wasn’t on goal, nevertheless it’s neat that it looks like they’re in the identical advanced. That facility is actually cool. And it may be used for lots of issues, not simply baseball.”
Skogen does not personal the stadium, however he does function the power.
So the baseball staff performs for 3 or 4 months after which they hire it out.
He mentioned they will do bigger concert events there, as properly.
“I’ve at all times cherished baseball,” he mentioned. “I am an enormous St. Louis Cardinals fan. (My household) spent summers in St. Louis, and we had this chance right here on the town as a result of the earlier homeowners… have been seeking to promote… I did not go actually in search of that. However when it fell to us, I felt like wow, this shall be enjoyable. You realize, that is one thing I’ve a ardour for. So it is type of like two interest companies actually and so they’re separate from the Competition firm. It is my very own private factor. So it is, you understand, some individuals acquire vehicles and I get to get pleasure from a few issues that I like.”