It took nearly 30 years, but the Fox Cities Exhibition Center will soon be a reality.
Over the past month, 10 Fox Cities communities have given an emphatic “YES” to building an exhibition center in downtown Appleton. The project, to be built behind the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, will be paid for through a room tax rate increase charged to visitors staying at area lodging properties.
Mayor Tim Hanna says without the cooperation of the other communities, the project would never have gotten off the ground.
“This was truly a collaborative effort by each of the 10 communities, that will produce regional economic benefits for years to come,” he said.
Wednesday morning Appleton signed closing documents for the $2 million purchase of a parking lot from Outagamie County for the site of the exhibition center. The city is also spending almost two million dollars in needed infrastructure improvements around the site, including a portion of a sky walk that will connect the exhibition center and the hotel.
The owners of the hotel will operate the exhibition center. It is expected to generate an average of $6.5 million in new visitor spending to the Fox Cities each year.
“We are excited about the opportunities the exhibition center will give our staff to sell the area to even more meeting and convention planners,” said Pam Seidl, Executive Director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is a project that the Bureau’s customers have asked about for years and we are pleased that our local municipalities have come together in a regional approach to make it a reality.”
Seidl says, the exhibition center, coupled with the additional room tax being allocated to the Bureau's Tourism Development Fund for sports facilities, makes it a very exciting time for tourism in the Fox Cities.
The next step in the project is to contract with an architect and construction manager. Members from each participating municipality will also select a representative for the room tax commission which will oversee collection and distribution of the room tax funds collected as part of the intergovernmental agreements for the project. Construction could begin by next summer.