Plans move ahead on Grand Chute sports facility

Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

Grand Chute will break ground in July for a new $30.6 million indoor sports facility that is expected to increase local tourism spending.

The Fox Cities Champion Center will be built on 25 acres of land north of Greenville Drive and east of McCarthy Road. The 164,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in the fall of 2019.

The center will include three pods and a lobby area. One pod will have four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts while a second pod will have an ice rink. The third pod will have an ice rink that can be converted into four basketball courts or eight volleyball courts depending on the need.

“Through four years of work, we think we’ve really hit on the right project to make an impact on the Fox Cities,” says Matt Ten Haken, director of sports marketing for the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Ten Haken says the facility will help bolster the economy during winter months and provide residents and visitors alike a valuable resource.

Money for the Fox Cities Champion Center will come from the Fox Cities Tourism Facilities Fund, which receives the hotel and motel room tax revenues collected by Appleton, Grand Chute, Fox Crossing, Little Chute, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Menasha, Neenah, Sherwood and the Town of Neenah.

“Everyone really bought into the idea of a community, Fox Cities-wide regional facility like this,” Ten Haken says.

While Grand Chute will build and own the land and facility, it will sign an agreement with Fox Cities Sports Development to operate it. That group, a nonprofit subsidiary of the FCCVB, will hire a contractor to manage the site, similar to the way the Fox Cities Exhibition Center is run. Profits generated from the Fox Cities Champion Center will be invested back into the facility. Grand Chute would need to kick in money if the center were to run a deficit.

The facility is projected to generate $8.9 million in direct spending during its first year of operation and $12 million annually by its fifth year, according to FCCVB projections.