Shipyard agreements receive initial approvals, city council votes next week

A rendering of the proposed outdoor events center for a potential new entertainment district in downtown Green Bay called "The Shipyard" (Photo Courtesy: City of Green Bay

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Next Tuesday night, we will know whether the Shipyard project will be happening in downtown Green Bay.

This Tuesday afternoon, the project received initial approvals from the city’s Redevelopment Authority for the Shipyard’s stadium, a concert hall, and an Anduzzi's restaurant.

Mayor Jim Schmitt says the city council’s vote next week will make or break the project.

“The time is now to do this,” said Schmitt. “If it doesn't go through at the city council, it's over. It's done. We're not going to revisit it.”

In October, the cost of the stadium, along with waterfront and parking improvements, was $11 milllion. It is now $13.5 million. City staff says the increase is because they've more than doubled the amount of parking spaces from 400 to 900.

The city would put in $12 million up front, however city staff says no taxpayer money would be involved. They say a lease agreement with the Bullfrogs owners and tax generated from new development in the area would help pay back a bank loan.

“This is a fair deal for the city,” said Schmitt.

“I'm not opposed to the city making a contribution,” said Alderman Guy Zima.

Zima peppered city staff with questions during the Redevelopment Authority meeting, leading to several arguments with Schmitt.

Zima doesn't like that the Bullfrogs owners would receive naming rights, concession, ticket, and parking revenue in exchange for its lease agreement.

“I think that is a very ultra-sweetheart agreement,” said Zima.

“We've got a guarantee backed lease for $225,000, which helps us with our payments and if they get the revenues from naming rights and concessions, that's part of their business plan and we respect that,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt says if the council approves the Shipyard, he has serious interest in the area from three other developers to build a corporate headquarters, market-rate housing, and a restaurant from the man who inspired the movie Rudy.

“If that kind of interest is coming without us even going out and soliciting it, that's a good sign that this is going to be successful,” said Schmitt.

While there has been some opposition, so far, the council has passed every Shipyard related vote that it has taken.

One change from previous Shipyard proposals is the concert hall from Festival Foods President and CEO Mark Skogen would not be physically attached to the stadium. It would instead be built on nearby land, closer to Broadway.

The city’s goal is to have the Shipyard’s three projects ready for the Bullfrogs’ 2019 season.

The stadium would host Bullfrogs baseball, development league soccer, high school and college athletics, as well as at least two concerts each year.

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