Tropical Dome reopens at Mitchell Park Conservatory

Work on Desert Dome expected to be completed in early November

The Mitchell Park Domes

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

The Tropical Dome at the Mitchell Park Conservatory has been reopened to the public, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced in a statement released this morning.

The Mitchell Park Domes
The Mitchell Park Domes

The Tropical Dome is the second of the Mitchell Park Domes to be reopened after all three domes at the conservatory were closed on Feb. 5, a week after a piece of concrete casting fell from the lattice structure of the Desert Dome.

Over the past several months, crews have been wrapping thousands of concrete-cast joints that make up the Domes’ structures to prevent more pieces from falling. Work on the Tropical Dome was completed Sept. 23.

The Show Dome was chosen to repair first because officials said it posed the fewest mechanical challenges, and was reopened on April 29. County officials said the types of vegetation growing in both the Tropical and Desert domes have made repairs more difficult, expensive and time-consuming.

Work on the Desert Dome is expected to be completed in early November and a grand reopening event for all three Domes sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. is being planned for early December, Abele said in the statement.

The closures raised questions about the longevity of the Domes, which Abele estimated in February may cost between $65 million and $75 million to repair or replace. The steep cost estimate prompted meetings seeking public input on the future of the Domes.

At the time, Abele spokesperson Melissa Baldauff blamed the Domes’ deterioration on what she called an inherited mess of deferred maintenance.

Documents obtained from the county in February indicated the Domes run an average annual deficit of more than $900,000 despite increased attendance and attempts to boost revenue in recent years.

Construction of the Mitchell Park Domes was completed in 1967.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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