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How a vacant store in the Janesville mall could possibly become a multimillion-dollar sports complex

How a vacant store in the Janesville mall could possibly become a multimillion-dollar sports complex
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How a vacant store in the Janesville mall could possibly become a multimillion-dollar sports complex

JANESVILLE, Wis. - A special steering committee created to pursue the possibility of building a new sports complex in the city of Janesville has chosen its preferred location. 

Paul Benson, a member of the committee, said they've been working for months to put a plan together. 

"The first thing we tried to determine was, does the community want this, and if yes, what needs to be part of the indoor sports complex?" he said. 

Benson said the community was overwhelmingly in favor of building a new complex, with the biggest wants being turf fields, sport courts and hockey rinks. 

"We heard the demand for more ice time for our kids," Benson said. "Right now, we have little kids practicing hockey at 9 or 10 o'clock at night. Our league play for adults goes until midnight."

The committee has since been working to determine where the said facility would be built. At a committee meeting Thursday night, the members unanimously decided their preferred location would be at the former JC Penney's at the Janesville mall. 

The mall's asking price for the vacant space? $1. 

"If we can acquire a site for as close to zero as possible, then we have more money to focus on building the product for the citizens," Benson said. 

While the plan would need to be approved and funded to become a reality, city leaders like Economic Development Director Gale Price are picturing the opportunities an indoor complex would create.

"Maybe it’s an ice skate shop or a hockey skate shop," Price said. "Certainly, Dicks (Sporting Goods)  could benefit from it, depending on what’s brought in."

The current proposal would include tearing down the current structure and building a new one in its place. All in all, Benson said the plan would cost $33 million. 

Price said the development would likely attract out-of-town guests for tournaments, further benefiting the local economy. 

"Travel is tied to these youth sports teams that travel the country or travel a region for tournaments," he said. "That provides occupancy in our hotels. They spend money in our restaurants when they go out to eat."

The community is invited to an engagement forum to share their thoughts about the plan. The forum will be held Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. at Janesville City Hall. 

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