Coalition Studies Convention Center in Wisconsin's Fox Cities

Although it would face tough competition from facilities elsewhere in the state, including Green Bay and Wisconsin Dells, a proposed convention center in Appleton, Wis. — one of 18 communities in northeastern Wisconsin known collectively as the "Fox Cities" — would bring to the area an additional $8.4 million a year, according to a coalition that studied the proposed convention center.

According to local newspaper the Appleton Post-Crescent, the coalition, the Convention Center Community Coalition, released a report to local lawmakers last week in which it recommended building an $18- to $23-million convention center that would total 45,000 square feet and attract as many as 66,000 visitors per year.

"The case for the exhibition center is compelling and we believe the community can come together to support it and embrace it," said Coalition Chairman Walter Rugland, according to the Post-Crescent.

To pay for the facility, Rugland and his colleagues suggested that Fox Cities communities increase their hotel room tax by 3 percent; currently, Appleton's hotel room tax is 6 percent, compared to 8 percent in Green Bay, 10 percent in Oshkosh, and 9 percent in both Madison and Milwaukee.

Although there is no timeline to start construction, the coalition has recommended the creation of a public authority to manage the convention center planning and design process.