City: Arena's financial troubles won't impact other Oshkosh projects nearby

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Oshkosh city leaders are expressing confidence that the financial issues surrounding the Menominee Nation Arena won't have an impact on re-development efforts in the surrounding neighborhood, known as the Sawdust District.

Basketball game at Menominee Nation Arena (WBAY file photo)

As early as next week, Bayland Buildings, the Menominee Nation Arena's general contractor, and Fox Valley Pro Basketball, which owns the arena, could be in court over a claim that more than $13 million is owed on a past due mortgage that hasn't seen a regularly scheduled payment since May of last year.

During a meeting Tuesday night, City Manager Mark Rohloff provided council members with an update.

"We're really going to advise the council that this remains a private party issue, that everything the city has done to protect the taxpayer still applies," said Rohloff.

The city is not a part of the lawsuit but has suspended property tax rebate payments tied to the arena being in a TIF district.

The arena is the focal point of an area south of the Fox River, known as the Sawdust District, with long-term redevelopment plans.

Mayor Lori Palmeri said, "It has been actually successful in that we replaced slum and blight, and there have been some successful relationships out of that. There's been new development as a result."

So far city officials tell Action 2 News they have not heard from any developers who are not moving forward with plans because of concerns over the arena's financial status, but they do admit there might be some uncertainty in coming months.

Rohloff added, "The Sawdust District plan is really a long-term plan, and so with the way I look at is that people will certainly look at what's going on, but I think by the time the Sawdust District begins to take off the issues with the arena will be resolved and really in the rear-view mirror for everybody."

Efforts to reach Fox Valley Pro Basketball for comment have been unsuccessful.