Commentary: 2020 is Milwaukee’s year to shine

Last updated on May 29th, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Food and dining website Eater, a brand of New York-based Vox Media, recently included Milwaukee on its list of “The Best Travel Cities for Street Food and Restaurants in 2020.”

The list was comprised of 19 destinations across six continents and included the East Village of New York City; Santiago, Chile; Marseille, France; Monterrey, Mexico…and Milwaukee.

About Milwaukee, Eater said, “The blue-collar Midwestern burg, cozy against the banks of Lake Michigan and long in the shadow of Chicago … may finally be having its moment.”

Indeed, Milwaukee’s time to shine is here in 2020. While the city still faces enormous challenges with crime and poverty, downtown and surrounding neighborhoods continue to attract businesses and new residents. That revitalization has attracted national attention. In 2018, an article in Vogue described Milwaukee as “the Midwest’s coolest (and most underrated) city.”

The national and international attention on Milwaukee is going to grow significantly this year with the Democratic National Convention being held here from July 13-16. Hotels are already booked for that week throughout the region as the DNC is expected to attract 50,000 visitors and $200 million in economic impact to the area.

Just being selected to host the convention has already drawn major attention to Milwaukee. Airbnb said Milwaukee is its top destination for 2020. Forbes magazine named Milwaukee one of its “25 Places to Visit in 2020.” Recently 500 members of the local and national press were in Milwaukee just to get information to prepare for the DNC.

The DNC is an indication of the massive amount of attention Milwaukee and Wisconsin will get during this presidential election year, as Wisconsin is considered a crucial swing state. President Trump recently held a rally in downtown Milwaukee. It is sure to be just the first of many that candidates will hold here this year.

In addition to the DNC, the Milwaukee Bucks appear primed for another deep playoff run that, like last season, will put Milwaukee in the national spotlight. The Ryder Cup, to be held in September at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan County, will also bring visitors and international media attention to southeastern Wisconsin.

And that’s not all.

Milwaukee will host USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championship from Aug. 7-9. It’s expected to bring 5,000 athletes and 10,000 spectators to the city, making an estimated local economic impact of $6 million.

Milwaukee will also host an international gymnastics event with an American Cup meet on March 7 at Fiserv Forum. It is part of qualifications for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

These special events join Milwaukee’s already chock-full calendar of annual events, including Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, which will keep the city rocking in between the NBA playoffs and the DNC, and State Fair, which last year set an attendance record of 1.1 million.

Buckle up. It’s going to be quite a year in Milwaukee.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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