JANESVILLE — The Janesville City Council at its Dec. 12, 2022 meeting approved borrowing $17.3 million for the Woodman’s Sports and Convention Center.
The non-binding resolution for the $50.3 million project passed 5-2. The council will have to formally approve bonding and contracts for the project at a later date.
Paul Benson, Dave Marshick, Aaron Burdick and Michael Jackson voted to approve the resolution. Heather Miller and Paul Williams voted against.
The project includes three spaces:
One would be a permanent sheet of ice to replace the city’s current ice arena, with the NAHL’s Janesville Jets and Janesville Youth Hockey being the primary tenents.
There also would be a multi-purpose area which could include a temporary ice sheet and sports area.
A third space would be dedicated to a 20,000-square-foot space to attract conventions that in the past have passed over Janesville because current convention space in the city is too small.
But the project is not without concerns expressed by several members of the public and council members, primarily who would be paying for it and how much it would cost taxpayers.
Among them, despite being the primary tenant, the Janesville Jets organization has yet to commit to funding any portion of the project.
Another concern is ongoing operational losses. A consultant’s study estimated the project would lose about $46,000 the first year, with losses continuing for at least five years.
There also are ongoing concerns over lack of a detailed operational plan and lack of current economic analysis.
Supporters said the city commitment was needed to help secure $24 million in state and federal funding.
According to city of Janesville documents obtained by RCCCA through a Freedom of Information Act request, only an informal request has been made for the $15 million State ARPA / State non-state building grant and a formal application has not yet been prepared or submitted for $4 million Federal Economic Development Grant.
The city has submitted an online application to Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office for a $5 million Federal Appropriation, but the city has yet to hear back, documents show.
So far, only $5.65 million has been raised through private pledges, including $3 million from Woodmans.