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Expo center plans presented at forum

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – Architects putting together design plans for a new expo center were on hand at the village hall Monday, Feb. 4, for the first public forum on the project.

The building will be located at the current site of the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena.

Representatives from the two architectural firms designing the expo center, Kahler Slater from Milwaukee and Populous based in Kansas City, Missouri, provided an update of the project plans and received input from those attending the forum.

Jeff Piette, the project manger from Kahler Slater, said the meeting was intended to go through the conceptual design for the expo center, while a second public meeting to take place in about a month or so would go through the next level of design after receiving public input.

“We hope that the suggestions that come out of tonight can be implemented in the design,” Piette said.

As currently designed, the expo center could be used as one large hall of just over 120,000 square feet or separated into three sections, roughly 40,000 to 45,000 square feet each.

“The thing that makes a lot of sense is the building footprint,” Piette said. “There seem to be some just natural connection points to the Resch Center that are unavoidable. As we looked at many configurations, this is the one that could optimize the footprint best.”

This drawing depicts how the new expo center, to be built at the current site of the Brown County Veterans Memorial, Arena could be used for concerts, equestrian events and basketball and volleyball games with 450×280 feet of floor space.

To make room for the new facility, the Brown County Arena, Shopko Hall and the former Packers Hall of Fame building would be torn down.

“As far as the construction activity, you’ll probably start to see demolition start sometime in May or so, and then construction start in summer and complete with our target date of January 2021,” Piette said.

The expo center has a total budget of $93 million with funds to pay for the project including $4.5 million from the stadium tax refund, the village working with the county to raise a total of $8 million in naming rights with another $15 million coming from the new half-percent county sales tax and the bulk of the funds coming from room tax dollars.

Piette said building a new expo center would be an opportunity to connect districts in the area to include Titletown, Lambeau Field, the expo center with the veteran’s memorial and Resch Center, and the Legends District.

Matt Breest, lead project designer from Populous, said three expo halls are oriented from north to south to connect with the plaza and Armed Forces Drive to the south.

Breest said the expo center could be used for events such as concerts, basketball and volleyball games, as well as equestrian events, but because of cost won’t include ice-making equipment to have an indoor rink.

“This facility is not just about what we can do in these three expo halls, but how it also relates back to the Resch, so that this becomes one complex, and then how it also relates back to the plaza and back to Lambeau’s open space…,” he said. “We want people to see these events that happen throughout the year.”

At left, Colleen Cassidy, project designer for Populous, discusses design plans for a new expo center during a public forum Monday, Feb. 4, at Ashwaubenon village hall.

Breest said expo center would use building materials with natural wood and metal tones “to create a very welcoming sense of environment.”

Last June, the village and county finalized an agreement outlining each unit of government’s responsibilities for the design and construction of a new expo center.

That Memorandum of Understanding is similar to what was put together for the construction of the Resch Center, for which the village’s Community Development Authority issued revenue bonds with the county taking on that debt while leasing the space prior to the county owning the facility once the debt is paid in full.

Village President Mary Kardoskee said the expo center project has been years in the making and is finally seeing some progress.

Kardoskee noted the CDA is handling contracts related to tearing down the arena and building the expo center at that site.

“The CDA just awarded a contract for the assessment for the asbestos removal (at the arena),” Kardoskee said. “So then we’ll need to get a contract for the actual removal, and then we’ll need a contract that will have to go on an RFP (request for proposals) for the demolition, and then we’ll start building.”

Miron Construction is the project manager for the expo center.

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