JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) – Governor Tony Evers hopes to spend $15 million of his $3.8 billion Capital Budget proposal on the Woodman’s Sports and Convention Center project.
Gov. Evers announced his intention to contribute to the public- and privately-funded project at the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau on Tuesday, along with several other buildings projects.
He said the future sports arena will attract tourists and create revenue for the Janesville community.
“This facility… will bring unlimited opportunities to the Janesville area with a new main arena, multipurpose sports convention and events spaces that will pull crowds from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and places beyond,” Evers said.
Janesville City Council President Paul Benson said the project will raise property taxes by about $38 annually, but that investment in the future multipurpose facility is worth it.
Friends of The Woodman’s Center is the group raising money and organizing plans to build the new complex inside the old Sears building at the Uptown Janesville Mall off of Milton Avenue.
“It’s a big win for today,” Friends of The Woodman’s Center Organizer Oakleigh Ryan said in reference to Evers’ proposed $15 million. “This is an important and vital project because we have affirmation from the governor’s office.”
Janesville residents are in favor of the project, against it or have mixed feelings about it.
“It’s always sad to see a mall kind of die but, but it’s nice to see that maybe they’re going to be doing something with it,” Tamara Kolovitz said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the community. It’s going to bring in a lot of business. I think the surrounding businesses will also generate a lot of extra income from the people coming into town.”
“We don’t need a sports complex until the roads are prepared,” Tina Elmer said. “The roads should come first and then we need to help our homeless also. To me those should be the two things that the city should focus on.”
“I worry about the finances and the support of the community to keep it going,” Mary Roberts said. “But I think about the kids and they need some place to go and sports to do.”
The project will cost about $50 million total. More information on the project can be found on its website. The plan will first go to the state building commission on March 23 for consideration, but it would ultimately need the approval of the Republican-controlled Legislature. Republicans slashed Evers’ spending proposals on building projects in each of his past two budgets.
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Source: WMTV, Madison, Wis.
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