Alderman calls for merging downtown arena boards

Milwaukee Alderman Terry Witkowski is sponsoring a proposed city resolution asking the state to study the benefits of merging the BMO Harris Bradley Center with the Wisconsin Center District, which runs the downtown convention center, the UWM Panther Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre.

The proposed merger would combine the Bradley Center and Wisconsin Center District under a single governing body. Currently the entities, both created by the state, operate separately.

The proposed resolution comes as the Milwaukee Bucks, the anchor tenant of the Bradley Center, are working on plans for a new arena that would replace that facility. The UWM Panther Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre sites could be part of a site for the new arena and/or ancillary development to the new arena. At the same time, Wisconsin Center District officials have long wanted to expand the convention center.

“Since both the Wisconsin Center District and the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corp. are discussing expanded or new facilities on the west side of Milwaukee’s downtown, and the outcomes of these discussions could profoundly affect downtown land use patterns and the economic health of the city as a whole, it is prudent to consider a possible merger of these governing bodies,” Witkowski’s proposed resolution states. “The boards of these two governing entities have not met jointly and cooperatively to plan for future land use in an important part of downtown Milwaukee, even though both plan use for the same sites. There is a possibility that significant operational efficiencies could be realized through the merger of the Wisconsin Center District and the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corp., and that the new, amalgamated entity may be more effective in marketing and hosting major sports, entertainment and convention events in Milwaukee.”

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