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Renderings unveiled for Brown County's expo center

A rendering for Brown County's expo center. (Photo courtesy: Kahler Slater, Populous)
A rendering for Brown County's expo center. (Photo courtesy: Kahler Slater, Populous)
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BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- We're getting our first look at what Brown County's new expo center will look like.

Construction is set to begin in June on the $93 million facility, which is replacing the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena.

An open house was held at the Brown County Central Library Monday night to show off the renderings of the new facility.

Two county committees signed off on the design work. A full county board vote still needs to happen. Some small changes could still be made, even after that vote takes place.

After Bret Michaels rocks it out one last time next month, the 60-year-old Brown County Arena will be coming down.

“I think it's just going to be a very exciting space, a big improvement, a great way to communicate back to the community,” said Matthew Breest, a lead designer on the project, who works for Populous.

The design features sprawling windows, to show off the events taking place inside the 127,000 square feet of flexible expo space. By comparison, the Arena and Shopko Hall has about 80,000 square feet of expo space.

A second level includes meeting rooms, office space, and a party deck.

“All the glass and all the newness, the wood that they're incorporating, I think the two-level is exciting,” said Roger Honold of New Franken. “It will be a nice change versus that old Brown County Arena.”

The outside will include fire pits, outdoor furniture, and a potential beer garden area. Concessions and restrooms will be accessible from the interior and exterior.

“I think it's a good idea to have like a park-like atmosphere with movies in the park, etc,” said Honold.

Throughout the design process, concerns have been raised remembering veterans. While this memorial will stay in the plaza area, some say that is not enough.

“That is beautiful and I don't have any disregard for it, but we need to remember we're tearing down a veteran's memorial and we should be replacing it with a veteran's memorial building, not the statue,” said Bob Reeners of Hobart.

The county is hoping to sell naming rights for $8 million. Some county supervisors have asked for ‘veteran’s memorial’ to be in the expo center's name. However, county leaders say that decision will likely be made by whoever puts up the money.

Most of the project will be paid for through county room tax revenue. $15 million will come from the county's half-percent sales tax and $4.7 million is coming from excess Lambeau Field sales tax money.

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The goal is to have the expo center ready for the start of 2021.

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