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Families of the children practicing hockey sit in the stands Aug. 14 at the Janesville Ice Arena.

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JANESVILLE

If Janesville builds an indoor sports complex, it should be attached to the Janesville Mall, a city committee recommended Thursday.

That doesn’t mean the mall is guaranteed to be the home of the sports complex or even that a new indoor sports complex is guaranteed.

The project would need OKs from the city parks and recreation committee, city plan commission and city council, said Jennifer Petruzzello, neighborhood and community services director.

A community engagement forum is planned Wednesday, Sept. 25.

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The city council had instructed the indoor sports complex feasibility steering committee to look at five sites:

  • The Janesville Mall.
  • A vacant lot near the intersection of Wright Road and Milwaukee Street.
  • A vacant lot near the Youth Sports Complex.
  • A two-block area downtown.
  • A location off Kettering Street.

Committee members unanimously chose the mall site. They chose the vacant lot near the Youth Sports Complex as a secondary choice.

Perkins & Will of Chicago was hired to create conceptual designs and provide cost estimates for each of the five locations.

The complex is slated to include:

  • A main ice rink.
  • A secondary rink with removable ice to transform into courts or a turf field.
  • Flexible space capable of holding four courts, a turf field or an additional sheet of ice.
  • Amenities such as a pro-shop, medical office, locker rooms, meeting rooms and concessions.
  • Parking.

The study from Perkins & Will estimates the mall would be the least expensive option at $33 million. The most expensive would be the downtown site at a cost of $39.6 million to $58 million.

The complex would be built at the site of the former JCPenney Store, which would be demolished.

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Pros of the mall site include adaptive reuse of existing mall property, minimized site development and parking costs, access to outside retail services and established traffic patterns, according to the study.

Cons include inefficient parking and demolition, according to the study.

Committee member and city council member Paul Benson said he spoke to mall leadership Thursday and learned the mall would sell the JCPenney site to the city for $1.

Mall officials are willing to be flexible with the city on most aspects of the project, except time. Officials want a commitment to the space by the end of the year, Benson said.

Adding to the mall’s appeal, Benson said, is that the mall is considering putting a family entertainment space—including trampolines, rock walls, go-karts and other activities—in the former Boston Store space. The sports complex and entertainment space could benefit from each other, Benson said.

Rockstep Capital, the mall’s owner, announced in July it was creating a similar entertainment center called Hype Indoor Adventures at the Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian, Mississippi.

According to a news report from WTOK in Mississippi, Hype Indoor Adventures will include go-karts, trampolines, batting cages, ax-throwing and other activities. It will be located at the mall’s former Sears building.

The committee Thursday listened to a presentation from Brandon Dowling of Johnson Consulting on a business plan draft detailing projected economic impact and operating costs for the complex.

Johnson Consulting based its business plan on the mall being chosen as the location.

Petruzzello said the city did not ask Johnson to assume the mall location as its model. The city asked the group to base its report on the site the consulting group thought would make the greatest economic impact on the community.

Estimates show the sports complex would start making money in its fifth year of operations, Dowling said.

Rental rates for ice should increase from what is charged at the Janesville Ice Arena and be brought up to market rate, Dowling said.

Janesville Jets President Bill McCoshen said he has concerns about higher ice rental rates and proposed changes in what entities receive advertising revenue.

Details on revenue sharing will be negotiated if the complex is built, McCoshen said. McCoshen, a member of the committee, supported the committee’s choice of the mall location.

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