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Breaking New Ground Together: The Woodman's Center Project Shows Its Collective Heart and Soul

On Tuesday, February 20th, we took another significant step forward together, celebrating the historic groundbreaking (or sledgehammering!) of Woodman's Sports and Convention Center.


More than 250 community members, including special donors and guests, were in attendance. The City of Janesville, Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, JP Cullen, Wisconsin’s own Gov. Tony Evers, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and the Friends of the Woodman's Center stepped to the podium with excitement and gratitude.

 

Full Spectrum Photography


Gov. Evers couldn’t hide his enthusiasm, saying, "This isn’t just a win for Janesville; it’s a giant leap for our communities and economy across the board."

 

In late 2023, Gov. Evers announced a $15M state investment in the project. This endorsement wasn't the Governor's first show of faith in the project. During a February 2023 visit to Janesville, he vocalized his support for the public-private partnership, amplifying its significance and influence across the state.

 

Facility Overview:

 

  • Most extensive Community Gathering Space: The Woodman's Center, approximately 140,000 sq. ft., will be a premier community gathering place and one of Rock County’s most significant indoor spaces.

  • Flexible Spaces: The facility will serve a diverse group of users with ice rinks, turf, sports courts, and flexible meeting and event spaces.

  • Bring More People: It will attract sports teams, businesses, and individuals for events and organizational conferences.

  • Replace Costly, Over Capacity, Failing Ice Arena: The Woodman's Center will include a central arena with 1,500 seats and year-round ice.

  • Operations: Operated by the City of Janesville, the Woodman's Center will be able to cater to a wide range of interests and needs in the community.

  • Expected Opening: A grand opening is expected in 2025.

  • Project Cost Estimate: The cost estimate to design the facility, demolish the existing building, and construct the new facility and improvements total $46,756,600. This cost is lower than the latest $50.3 million projection and includes all desired alternatives, leaving the City to cover 37%.

  • Sustainability Initiatives: Featuring a solar partnership with Alliant Energy, recycling and reuse of the property, and the use of local and responsibly sourced materials, the Woodman's Center is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainable community development.


“The Friends have been working tirelessly, hand in hand with the City of Janesville and community partners, to reach this day,” said Project Manager Sabrina Bowerman. “Our remarkable private fundraising achievement of $9.7M marks the largest in Janesville’s history. Thank you to all our donors, especially our top donors: Woodman’s Markets, Mercyhealth, Kennedy Family Foundation, Janesville Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Uptown Janesville, Rockstep Capital, and our anonymous $1M donor.”

 

While at the podium, the Friends also announced two new funding partners, each contributing $500,000—the Hendricks family and the Janesville Foundation.

 

City Manager Kevin Lahner put it perfectly: "This project? It’s all about teamwork and our undying spirit. It's a testament to what happens when we pull together and a showcase of Janesville's resilience through thick and thin. Simply put, we’re making magic happen."

 

Other influential project partners include the Janesville Jets. In August 2023, the Jets announced their contribution to the project. In addition to a $390K commitment, they’ll be chipping in an extra 100 hours of ice time during off-peak hours, valued at $25,000.

 

You can check out our growing list of voices who have shared their support here.

 

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

 

A collective commitment has been the cornerstone of the project’s success to celebrate among a roster of exceptional Friends leadership, volunteers, consultants, and team members— and about 50 individuals representing a spectrum of local organizations.

 

Special thanks to:

 

  • Sabrina Bowerman

  • Dan Jensen

  • Sean Kennedy

  • Sean Knott

  • Tim Lindau

  • Bill McCoshen

  • Angela Pakes

  • Jayme Roth

  • Oakleigh Ryan

  • Lindsay Scheidell

  • Larry Squire

  • Katie Tranel

  • Sandi Walton

 

Bill McCoshen, Friends co-chair and managing partner for the Janesville Jets, was an instrumental leader in the project and shared his excitement earlier with the North American Hockey League. “Today we are entering a new chapter in Jets franchise history. The Woodman’s Center is the culmination of nearly seven years of effort by an incredible group of community, city, and business leaders. This project faced significant adversity at many junctures, but our steering committee adopted the motto we tell our players every season: trust the process! Nobody ever gave up on the dream. This is the beginning of something very special for Janesville, and the Jets were proud to play a part in making it happen.”

 

According to a 2022 analysis by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Fiscal and Economic Research Center, those dedicated Jets fans are set to boost the local economy with an estimated annual impact of $1.7M and $550K in labor income.


Economic Renaissance: Building a Janesville Legacy with The Woodman's Center

 

The Woodman's Center project is a game-changer for Rock County's economy, set to surge an annual economic impact of $23M and a one-time construction impact of nearly $75M. Now that the readiness signal is out there, Janesville can welcome new businesses, retail stores and boutique shops, restaurants and eateries, and new hotel options to the area.


With increased excitement and growth, community leaders also expect increased impact.

 

RockStep Capital is already on the way. With the project in motion, the group has innovative plans, including crafting an all-in-one hub for family entertainment and more at the Uptown Janesville property. RockStep recognized the Janesville community’s desire for the facility early on and donated the 7.2-acre parcel of land to the City of Janesville. 


U.S. Sen. Baldwin echoed the economic impact sentiments: "This center is going to be a powerhouse, creating over 200 quality jobs, spurring tourism, and generating millions in economic impact every year."

 

Special thanks to the Senator for her contributions in rallying a $5M earmark for the Woodman's Center initiative via the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. State Sen. Mark Spreitzer and State Rep. Sue Conley also supported the project.

 

In addition, we must acknowledge the JACVB’s contributions. The board has pledged 10% of room tax revenue for facility sales and marketing, estimated at $75,000-$100,000 annually, and $50,000 in annual in-kind support.

 

“Together, we're not just building a center; we're crafting a legacy for Janesville, powered by unity, resilience, and the shared vision of a brighter, more connected community,” said Christine Rebout, co-chair of the Friends of Woodman’s Center and JACVB’s Executive Director. “Here's to our collective effort, our shared dreams, and the incredible impact we're set to make. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for participating in this transformative journey.”

 

Celebrate the Woodman’s Center Groundbreaking With a Gift of Support

 

Everyone’s support, talent, dollars, and time have been crucial in turning this dream into a reality that promises to serve our community for generations.

 

If the groundbreaking excitement stirs a spark in you to join our cause, we invite you to join this extraordinary opportunity and donate today. Please get in touch with us at friends@woodmanscenter.com to send your gift.


You can also donate directly to the Woodman's Sports and Convention Center Legacy Fund by CLICKING HERE.

 

We’ll continue to recap the historic day on Facebook and Instagram with images provided by Full Spectrum Photography.
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