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FAQ: Woodman's Sports & Convention Center

As a primarily volunteer-driven group, the Friends have been collecting project feedback since our outreach efforts began. We understand that, along with the excitement and support, some misconceptions are still being shared about the project. That's why the Friends are committed to being a close-to-project community resource available to answer some of the frequently asked questions and provide accurate information about the Woodman's Center.

 

We believe that with a better understanding of the project, the benefits of separating fact from fiction will emerge and help bring the community together. Therefore, we invite you to explore and learn more about the Woodman's Center and what it has to offer. We'll add additional questions and answers to this page along the way.

 

Q: What is the Woodman's Sports & Convention Center project?

The Woodman's Center will create a space for athletics of all kinds and events and conventions that does not currently exist in our community or Southcentral Wisconsin. In addition, the facility will generate long-term financial returns for the city, region, and state, create new employment opportunities, and serve as a beacon of community development and progress. The Woodman's Center is expected to be a must-use Midwest facility, and its positive impact on the greater Rock County community will be felt for years to come.

 

Q: Where will it be located?

 

The Woodman's Center is strategically located just minutes away from the primary gateway to the region, Interstate 90/39. With the demolition of the vacant Sears at Uptown Janesville, the Woodman's Center will emerge as the cornerstone of the redeveloped Milton Avenue retail corridor, offering versatile facilities and a convenient location that caters to a wide range of events.

 

Q: What kind of spaces will the Woodman's Center include?

 

The Woodman's Center will include a main arena with 1,500 seats and year-round ice, a multi-purpose arena that can transform into an indoor turf, sports court, or a stage, and flexible convention space perfect for hosting everything from trade shows to talent shows. The Woodman's Center also has basketball courts, volleyball courts, pickleball, an open gym, and more. Renderings are available here.

 

Q: What events and activities could be hosted at the Woodman's Center?

 

The Woodman's Center could host concerts, cultural festivals, fitness classes, charity events, and pretty much anything else you can dream up. It's also a one-stop shop for business events, family outings, entertainment opportunities, and more. We have a fun list of event and activity possibilities here.

Q: Who is in charge of the project's design and execution?

 

The Woodman's Center Design Team includes members from the City of Janesville, Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Friends of the Woodman Center leaders and volunteers, Rockstep Capital/Uptown Janesville, City staff, and expert design consultants. They have led the design process for over a year, meeting 18 times to ensure the facility meets everyone's needs. They also conducted public, sports, civic organizations, and stakeholder engagement activities to gather input and ensure they hit the mark.

 

Q: When will the Woodman's Center be open?

The Woodman's Center project is on track despite the pandemic and inflationary surprises. The planning groups have completed all the nitty-gritty stuff like community surveying, predesign and programming, schematic design, cost estimating, and value engineering. The Friends of the Woodman's Center are committed to working with decision-makers to ensure the project is done right, with project completion anticipated in early 2024.

Q: Which organizations are eligible to use the Woodman's Center?

 

It remains a top priority to create a space that meets the diverse needs and desires of all community members and organizations. To achieve this, our team has developed a public-private partnership approach that guarantees fair and sustainable access to the center. Through the establishment of an advisory group comprising representatives from various users, such as JACVB, Janesville School District, Janesville Special Olympics, UW-Whitewater, and others, we're ensuring that everyone has a say in how the Woodman’s Center facilities are run. This advisory group will provide recommendations that strike a balance between the community's needs and tourism, including scheduling and facility use. We're confident that this approach will guarantee a balanced approach for community, convention, and event needs. Additionally, we understand the importance of equitable access to facilities. Therefore, we have implemented measures to guarantee that all users have equal time to utilize our facilities at a time that suits them, while keeping capacity and viability in mind. A partnership approach will ensure the Woodman's Center facilities are accessible, efficient, and sustainable for all users.

 

Q: Who are the committed contributors to the project?

 

The Woodman's Center project has received more than $8 million in pledges from private sector institutions, donors, and state/federal funding. Woodman's Markets, Mercyhealth, and the Kennedy Family Foundation are among the significant and committed contributors. Additionally, the JACVB board has pledged 10% of room tax revenue over five years for facility sales and marketing, worth an estimated $75,000-$100,000 per year, renewable for another five years. They've also committed to annual in-kind support valued at approximately $50,000. This support is a testament to the dedication of our contributors and the JACVB board's commitment to the Woodman's Center project. We're grateful for this level of backing and confident that it will enable us to create a premier facility that serves the needs of the entire Janesville community for years to come.

 

Q: What is the anticipated contribution taxpayers will be required to make towards the project?

 

Affordability is just as much one of our concerns. So, while the Janesville City Council passed a resolution to borrow $17.3M over 20 years, the projected annual expense is just $38.25, or $3.19 per month, for City of Janesville homeowners. This estimate is based on an interest rate of 5.35% and a median assessed home value of $150,100 (as of 12/12/2022). We feel assured that the Woodman's Center will provide immense benefits and paybacks to our community in numerous ways. Economic leaders have recognized the project as a wise investment in our future and in our community's future as a responsible and sustainable asset in our community's growth and prosperity. Still don’t believe us? Read what the experts have to say.

 

Q: Can you tell me if Uptown Janesville has any significant changes or developments planned for the near future?

 

RockStep Capital, a crucial supporter of the Woodman's Center and the facility’s largest neighbor, plans to invest further in Uptown Janesville and the community and position it as a one-stop-shop for family entertainment needs. Once the facility is built, Uptown’s master plan improvement concept will be in play and could increase property values by $50-75M. Not only will this plan impress families who want to stay in town, but it will also benefit the 75 small and mid-size businesses along the shared commercial corridor. Economic experts agree that this forward-thinking approach will future-proof the property against failure. We commend the City for repurposing current assets and making our community even better through building vibrancy throughout. Additionally, we'd like to extend our thanks to Rockstep for their commitment to creating a destination that offers something different than what we currently have. We believe this development could become a central gathering place for everyone in Janesville.

 

Q: Will the public have to pay to use the facility?

 

The Woodman's Center is open to the public. While some sports and entertainment opportunities may come with a fee, many events will be free or affordable for all to enjoy. Although the final rates and fees for specific user groups are yet to be determined, we can offer some sneak peeks of suggested fees for sports and convention rental spaces. For instance, Public Skate for adults is anticipated to cost around $8, while youth skate remains at $7. Pickleball drop-in games with friends are a steal at only $3. Youth sports leagues such as basketball and volleyball are expected to charge around $100 per hour. We understand the importance of making these events and activities accessible to everyone, and therefore we are designing suggested fees to be affordable with welcomed user community feedback.

 

The City of Janesville has more about what user fees may look like in its FAQ.

 

Q: Why is there a need for a new convention center in Janesville?

 

JACVB has identified insufficient space as the primary reason for lost business, which has cost the city $5M over five years. But as designed, the Woodman's Center can accommodate up to 1,200 people in a banquet-style format and offers 20,000 square feet of event space to support keynote speakers, meal spaces, break-out rooms, and trade show areas. The Friends are thrilled that Janesville will become a hub for Midwest activities and conventions, and we're excited to see what kind of cool events and speakers will come our way.

For those wondering about the closure of the Pontiac Convention Center, there's no need to worry. It wasn't due to a lack of business opportunities. Instead, the prior owners/operators, KANDU, also a strong Woodman’s Center supporter, shifted their focus to support their core mission: promoting and providing diverse opportunities offering people with disabilities or disadvantages the ability to pursue greater independence and explore their limitless potential.

Q: How big will the Woodman's Center be?

 

Spanning 130,000 square feet, the Woodman's Center will be a remarkable multi-use facility created for diverse user groups. It has been meticulously designed to cater to various needs and interests.

 

Here's what you can expect:

 

  1. Mercyhealth Arena: The main event space with a seating capacity of 1,500 and year-round ice for youth hockey, skating, and community activities.

  2. Multi-Purpose Arena: A versatile area accommodating 250 spectators, with adjustable features for various sports and activities throughout the year.

  3. Flexible Convention Space: Approximately 20,000 square feet to host trade shows, conventions, banquets, and community events. It will also offer sports facilities like basketball and volleyball courts, pickleball, and an open gym.

 

Check out the latest facility renderings on page 4 of the City of Janesville's FAQ here.

 

Q: What types of jobs will the Woodman's Center bring to Janesville?

 

The Woodman's Center is estimated to create approximately 228 jobs, full-time equivalent. Many of these positions will be in the hospitality, restaurant, and entertainment sectors, providing accessible employment options for individuals from diverse backgrounds, including low-income individuals. The increase in activity from March to October will convert seasonal jobs into permanent positions, while the growth in mid-week business will result in converting part-time roles into full-time positions.

By establishing a community asset that fosters family connections, provides opportunities for children to participate in sporting events, and hosts various community gatherings, we create stronger ties within the community. These activities enhance the quality of life and make our region more attractive to talented individuals and their families.

 

Q: When will Janesville City Council next vote on the project?

 

The anticipated vote on the Woodman's Center project is scheduled for September 2023. That's when the City Council will be asked to award a construction contract. The Friends encourage the community to stay updated and informed with these discussions and actions.

 

Q: How much will it cost local businesses and organizations to use the conference center?

 

Analysts have recommended a fee of $150 per hour for the conference center space. This fee includes the flexible area, ensuring users have ample room to meet convention and event needs. Additionally, lower rates will be established for using a portion of the space or rooms. A priority goal is to provide flexibility and affordability tailored to community and user requests.

 

Q: What are the projected financials for the Woodman's Center?

 

For detailed information on the projected financials of the Woodman's Center, including staffing levels, budgets, revenue projections, and more, the Friends encourage you to visit the City of Janesville's webpage and check out the FAQ. The comprehensive five-year financial review conducted by Ballard*King and Associates provides valuable insights into the facility's operations and financial projections.

Question: Can an indoor track be included at the facility?

 

While the Woodman's Center floor plans do not include an indoor track, the facility will quickly become a community health, wellness, and fitness hub. Sporting events and competitions, fitness classes, community activities, health & wellness fairs, and charity walks or runs will all be possibilities in the Woodman's Center. Check out the floor plans here.

 

Question: Why are all Janesville residents, including those who don't anticipate using the facility, expected to contribute to its costs?

 

The Friends understand that the Woodman’s Center project represents a significant investment in our community's future. While it's true that not everyone may use the facility directly, the benefits it will bring will ripple outwards to them. The Center will be a place where locals can be entertained, engage in healthy activities, and socialize in Janesville’s much-needed third space, where community events can take place, our businesses can gather to learn and grow, and where we can attract visitors, all of which will contribute to a stronger, more vibrant Janesville. Plus, a partnership between the public and private sectors allows for a shared investment in our community's future, where both sides will share resources and rewards to deliver a flexible space for public use that all can benefit from.

 

Everyone's contribution, whether they use the facility or not, helps to make this vision a reality. We hope that even if you might not use the facility, you'll feel proud of what we're building together for Janesville.

 

The Friends believe the Woodman's Center will bring something for everyone in our community to enjoy and benefit from. And the possibilities are only as limited as our imaginations, with many free or low-cost events yet to be planned, so we've started a list for you to consider. Learn about 42 uses for the Woodman's Center that you haven't thought about here.

 

Question: Are there plans to upgrade roads, exits, and lights to accommodate the increased traffic?

 

A detailed traffic study was conducted in late 2022 ahead of the new Starbucks and LensCrafters project near Uptown Janesville. The results confirmed that our existing road layouts and traffic systems could easily handle the extra activity from these new establishments and the Woodman's Center without needing any changes, ensuring new and extra traffic will merge smoothly into our community while keeping close tabs on drivers and pedestrian safety.

 

Question: Will the City of Janesville employ Woodman's Center staff, making them eligible for a pension and other benefits?

 

This is a critical detail currently in the process planning phase exploring all the best options, including direct city management or the potential hiring of a third-party management company, similar to the model with the public golf courses. No matter which direction leaders choose, an important aspect the Friends remain focused on is attracting and diversifying talent as Woodman's Center employees, creating a workplace that brings together people from all walks of life who contribute to the enrichment of our community.

 

Question: Will the Woodman's Center incorporate electric vehicle charging stations in its parking lots?

 

While electric vehicle charging stations may not be available at the facility's initial opening, we've ensured to plan for a sustainable future. The necessary electrical conduits will be pre-installed on the property, laying the groundwork for easy installation of charging stations when the time comes! We're excited about this potential addition, underscoring project leaders’ commitment to sustainability and future-proof solutions good for our community.

 

Still have questions?

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Email at friends@woodmanscenter.com. We are excited to be on this project journey with you and look forward to building a better future together.

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