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Brown County A Step Closer To Getting New Expo Center

City's Redevelopment Authority Votes To Direct Room Taxes To Project

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Brown County has plans to build a new exposition center with an estimated cost of $93 million. It would replace the Veterans Memorial Arena built in 1958.

The parcel of land designated for the new center is across the street from Lambeau Field and just blocks away from the new Titletown District that hosts an upscale hotel and spa, and several restaurants.

A plan to pay for the project would draw on hotel room taxes. All seven Brown County municipalities must agree on the room tax.

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Green Bay is the holdout, but the city’s redevelopment authority voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the diversion of the tax to the expo center. The 10-percent tax on hotel rooms won’t be increased; instead the money will be redirected to the center once other bonding obligations are met.

County Executive Troy Streckenbach said the community needs to “put a stake in the ground,” indicating northeastern Wisconsin is a destination.

“We need to be a powerhouse, we need to be acting like the … third largest city (in Wisconsin)” Streckenbach said. “These types of investments are critical for us to be able to maintain that critical edge.”

Streckenbach added the county can effectively “piggy-back” on the popularity of the Green Bay Packers.

“We’re hoping that we can tie in with what the Packers are looking for and bring in the NFL draft and making our region more competitive with expositions,” Streckenbach said. But he acknowledged the new center is still a few years off. “We’re hoping somewhere around 2019 or 2020 we can have a facility up and running.”

If finalized, the project won’t be completely publicly funded. Streckenbach said the funding set up requires at least $8 million in naming rights, “So there will definitely be the opportunity for businesses in the area, or nationally, to have the opportunity to name it.”

The Green Bay City Council must sign off on the deal. It’s expected to take up the issue at its Tuesday, Aug. 15 meeting. Other villages and towns in the county have already approved it.

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