By Neil Johnson - November 15th 2022



The Janesville City Council likely will vote this spring on whether to roll ahead with the Woodman’s Sports and Convention Center—but not until a new council is seated after an election in April.

Under a new timeline galvanized Tuesday, the center’s design team wouldn’t wrap up design and development of the two-sheet, 130,000-square-foot arena and move the project into contract bidding before May 2023.

That means the current council, the one that has been at the helm since planning began for the facility this spring, won’t be the one to vote on giving the green light to the project.

Four council seats will be on the ballot in April, and terms of the current council members will expire after the vote is held.

That means it is theoretically possible that a council with a majority of new members could be the ones to decide on the fate of the Woodman’s Center, a project that as of Tuesday has a price tag of about $50 million.

The design committee on Tuesday settled on a base design that would contain what was initially planned, including a nearly 20,000-square-foot convention center space and two ice sheets that could be refitted with removable floors to host a variety of sports, leagues and tournaments—including indoor pickleball.

Despite the project’s altered timeline, consultants from Zimmerman Architectural Studios said they knocked several weeks off what would have been a two-month delay in the project.

The project is moving into detailed design phases in a process that will roll out over the rest of the fall and winter months. A vote on a final project plan by whomever is on the city council would likely come in May, which would allow work to start by July or August if the city gives approval.

Mike Payne, Janesville’s public works director and the leader of the design committee, said an “executive committee” of city officials, owners of Uptown Janesville and a private friends group that has been raising money for the facility continues to meet weekly to discuss the project.

The Janesville School District also is in talks with the city over whether the school district might pay for the completion of locker rooms at the facility that would be used by the city’s high school hockey team, which draws players from both Craig and Parker high schools.

All parties, he said, including city members and RockStep Capital, Uptown Janesville’s owner, are working under a mindset that by midyear, the project will be a go.

“We expect this to happen. They expect it to happen. We all want it to happen, and we’re headed the right direction,” Payne said Tuesday.

Members of the city’s ad hoc sports and convention center design committee in recent weeks had expressed frustration that hired project consultants and the committee itself weren’t moving fast enough to make changes and cuts to designs that would knock the project’s price tag down.

Earlier this month, consultants working on the project told the committee they would likely be able to take a design into development phase this winter, bringing forth a plan that ultimately would cost $10 million less than the $60 million cost estimate attached to earlier designs.

But the project had slipped months behind the initial timeline as the committee and designers spent weeks going back and forth on changes aimed at making the project both more affordable and functional.

Designers haven’t finalized the exterior look of the center, but preliminary renderings shown Tuesday show a precast concrete building façade with a 10-foot-tall windows, two entryways and room on the front exterior wall to display the Woodman’s namesake.

Janesville-based Woodman’s Food Market is the major private-side donor for the project.

View Article Here.