Unclear future for Brown County expo center after vote

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Redevelopment Authority has voted down Brown County's proposal to rebuild the aging Veterans Memorial Arena, an estimated $93 million project.

RDA members agree the aging Expo Center needs to be replaced. On Friday, the RDA voted 2-4 against the proposal because members could not agree on some of the financial conditions.

In May, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach proposed raising $225 million through sales and hotel room taxes to fund county projects.

However, some City of Green Bay staff members believe a better deal is out there, and they want to hold off on the financial terms of the proposal until they have more information.

The current deal is structured so all excess room tax goes toward a new expo center.

After bonds are paid off, a contribution would go to the Visitors Convention Bureau.

Leftover funds would go back to the municipalities.

County leaders want the proposal to move forward, but city leaders say they are still in a planning stage.

"The concern for us is we don't have really firm numbers in terms of the projections of growth, the bond amount, how much the facility is going to cost," said Kevin Vonck, director of Green Bay Economic Development. "So if those line up in the wrong way, there is going to be no excess for the city. And that is a bad deal for the city if there's no excess coming back to us."

Streckenbach says he's disappointed. He argues that Green Bay would benefit from the new expo hall.

"The county board will look at what this means because ultimately August 15th is coming. And from that standpoint, right now, the RDA has not made that choice to continue to partner with the rest of the communities in support of the overall project, and so right now I guess the county's disappointed along with the other municipalities that have supported it," Streckenbach said.

The 'no' vote from the RDA doesn't mean the project is tabled. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says he wants more time.

"This is one of the biggest decisions that's being made in this community and I think the questions that they asked were appropriate, and it needs to be vetted a little bit more," Mayor Schmitt said. "I mean, we will build an expo hall and it will get done. It just needs a little bit more time."

The mayor says he will meet with Streckenbach in the coming week to discuss their points of view.

Some RDA members told us another special meeting on the topic would be held in the coming weeks.



 
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