The downtown Milwaukee Convention Center expansion will cost more than its budgeted price of $420 million, necessitating more government borrowing to cover this inflation-fueled increase.

That’s the word coming from a Thursday meeting of two board committees for the Wisconsin Center District, which operates the convention center.

The district will have to borrow more money to cover the higher costs, Ald said. Robert Bauman, Member of the Board of Directors.

Details are not yet final, but likely will be by the full board meeting on Aug. 19, Bauman told the Journal Sentinel.

The Governance Committee and the Finance Committee of the Board met in camera to discuss the matter.

Wisconsin’s open meeting law allows governments to discuss certain matters, including negotiations about investments of public funds, behind closed doors. However, any vote on these matters must take place in open session.

The good news is that the District, an agency created by the state and funded in part by taxes on hotel rooms, restaurant meals and car rental fees in Milwaukee County, recorded revenue higher than expected so far in 2022.

That’s according to a report presented in open session to committee members by Steve Marsh, the district’s chief financial officer and senior vice president.

The sharp rise in the rate of inflation and its impact on the price of steel, concrete and other building materials are driving the price hike, according to a May report to the board.

The Wisconsin Center expansion, which began a year ago, saw bids 10% to 15% over budget, Marty Brooks, general manager and district chairman, said in May.

This is well above the 8.5% contingency included in the project budget approved in April 2020.

The project, which will double the size of the Wisconsin Center, is expected to be completed by March 2024.

That’s about five months before the center helps host the Republican National Convention.

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Tom Daykin can be emailed to [email protected] and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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