Meetings and events are big business in Northeast Wisconsin, as evidenced by the numerous spaces that are cropping up throughout the region.
“The market has demonstrated a strong need for event space,” Brian Johnson, executive director of On Broadway Inc., says of the Broadway District in Green Bay.
Within that particular portion of downtown Green Bay alone, Johnson quickly cited several event spaces that have recently opened — including the new Gather on Broadway and the large expansion at Titletown Brewing Co.
With the demand for these sorts of spaces continuing to increase, cities are rising to the challenge to offer suitable and unique venues for various conferences, concerts and other events.
In the Broadway District, the proposed development of The Shipyard at a vacant site on the southern edge of the district is still in the negotiation phase and subject to city council approval. (See “Green Bay rising,” page 39.)
The Oshkosh Arena
The Oshkosh Arena broke ground on March 29, and is the beginning of long-term plansfor future development of the Sawdust District in Oshkosh.
The arena will be the home of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA D-League team, the Wisconsin Herd.
“The Oshkosh Arena will be a boost to tourism in Oshkosh,” says Justin DeJager, marketing manager for the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s an economic catalyst for Oshkosh, especially the downtown area.”
In addition to hosting the Herd, the new 3,500-seat arena will feature a restaurant, VIP areas, club seating and retail space.
“During the D-League off-season, the arena will host sport-court tournaments, concerts, expos, and other entertainment,” DeJager says. “Simply stated, the new arena is a total game changer here in Oshkosh.”
The Barrel Haus
Events searching for a unique venue will feel right at home at Badger State Brewing Co.’s new space in Green Bay. Aptly named The Barrel Haus, the 6,500-square-foot space offers seating for up to 375 people, and is designed to host wedding receptions, corporate events and tailgates, small expos, rehearsal dinners and parties.
“The space was for the most part already built and just being used as storage,” Andrew Fabry, president and founder, says. “So we wanted to utilize that space for something more beneficial.”
Badger State Brewing also recently completed its outdoor green space adjacent to The Barrel Haus, dubbed Garden Plaza at Badger State Brewing, with plans to use that space for outdoor weddings, tent parties and tailgates.
As far as the goal for Badger State’s new spaces?
“Simply to bring a unique venue to the Greater Green Bay area, as well as offer our customers, supporters and community an awesome space to host their most memorable moments,” Fabry says.
The Fox Cities Exhibition Center
Planned to open in late fall of 2017, the Fox Cities Exhibition Center will bring some much-needed convention space to Appleton. Located directly behind the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel downtown, the center fills a void and will ideally bring some new convention business to the area.
“In 2006, it was becoming apparent that we were losing convention business as other destinations around the state developed new, larger facilities,” says Mary Rhode, marketing and communications manager for the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Groups that were willing to ‘make do’ with our smaller space because it was the only option no longer had to do that — so they went elsewhere.”
While Rhode says the Appleton area doesn’t lack meeting space, it didn’t have any exhibition space to offer potential conventions — a need that the new center will address.
Capable of hosting groups up to 2,500 people, the exhibition center is anticipated to give a big boost to Appleton’s appeal to larger meetings and conventions. A feasibility study indicated that the center would drive 27,268 room nights — 13,634 are net new room nights — annually in the market.
To kick things off, the CVB is already hard at work preparing a familiarization tour for meeting planners in the fall of this year.