© 2022 WXPR
Mirror of the Northwoods. Window on the World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

One year later, Hodag Dome provides gathering space for community & brings boost to local economy

Hodag Dome 2.jpg
Katie Thoresen
Community member walk the track at the Hodag Dome.

One year ago, the School District of Rhinelander officially opened the Hodag Dome to the public.

Since that day, thousands of students, community members, and visiting athletes have put it use.

Ellie Gamvetti and Sylvia Carlson are just two of the many people you find walking the track around the Hodag Dome most days.

“Walk and talk,” said Carlson.

“My husband says what do you talk about? I say it’s doesn’t matter we just talk,” said Gamvetti with a laugh.

The two friends love that there’s a place in Rhinelander for them to get out of the snow and cold while still feeling like they’re in an open space.

They also love the sense of community within the dome.

Hodag Dome 3.jpg
Katie Thoresen
Children's Wisconsin Play & Learn use the dome as a gather space for kids and their families.

“It’s so much fun. Like right now they’ve got a bunch of little kids down there and it’s so much fun to see them,” said Carlson. “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen since I’ve retired.”

There’s no shortage of activities within the dome on any given morning.

On Monday, middle schoolers played soccer on one half of the field, a large group of parents with their toddlers run around on the other half, a dozen or so people walk the track, a fitness class works out in the back corner, and nearly all the pickle ball courts are in use.

“That’s my favorite part of the job actually is seeing people of all ages come in and enjoy the dome,” said Hodag Dome Manager Janet Jamison.

In the past year she’s seen people of all ages come in and try just about any activity you can think of.

“There was a gentleman in here practicing fly fishing casting this morning. That was a cool, new thing I hadn’t seen before,” she said.

More than $8.5 million was invested into the 128,000 square foot structure.

Hodag Dome 1.jpg
Katie Thoresen
The pickleball courts are one of the most popular features in the Hodag Dome.

About 200 community members use the Hodag Dome daily and nearly 1,500 people have memberships. That’s on top of the students that use it throughout the week and the hundreds of athletes that come from outside the area to use the space for training, games, and tournaments.

“This last weekend there were 21 teams in the softball tournament. That brought, a conservative estimate would probably be 600 to 800 people into Rhinelander. They all stay in our local hotels and eat at our restaurants and shop at our local stores. It’s a great economic boost to our area,” said Jamison.

Whether it’s teams visiting or two friends going for a walk, many are grateful to have the dome in their community.

“I think it’s really wonderful. Best thing to every happen to the area,” said Gamvetti.

Generally, the dome is open to the public in the morning and evening during the week.

After school time is reserved for student athletes.

Weekend hours usually depend on tournament schedules.