Fiserv Forum grand opening event attracts 50,000

Former Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl honored with block naming [PHOTO GALLERY]

The bowl seats 17,500 for basketball and 18,000 for concerts.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

A crowd of about 50,000 Sunday attended the public ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration for the new Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Bucks officials were joined at the ceremony by Governor Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council president Ashanti Hamilton, Fiserv Inc. president and chief executive officer Jeff Yabuki, NBA commissioner Adam Silver among others to offer words of thanks and congratulations to the team and the city. 

Click here to see a special report from WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee, on the Fiserv Forum.

The opening comes just over two years after the $524 million, 750,000-square-foot project broke ground in June 2016. It will be the centerpiece of the arena district, which the Bucks plan to develop over the coming years. That development includes the Entertainment Block, opening in spring 2019 along the east side of Vel R. Phillips Avenue between West Highland Avenue and West Juneau Avenue. 

“Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new home, is a big deal for Wisconsin and specifically for Milwaukee,” Walker said. “Because of the way we structured the deal, the state will receive an actual return of $2.99 for every dollar in the project. This is one of the reasons we could bring Democrats and Republicans together from all over the state to support our plan. It will help revitalize downtown Milwaukee, and at a time when more people are working in Wisconsin than ever before, we need more reasons to attract talent to the state.”

The ceremony was held on Herb Kohl Way, the block outside the venue’s main entrance. It was named yesterday to honor former Bucks owner Senator Herb Kohl. He sold the team in 2014 to current majority owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan and Mike Fascitelli, and provided them with $100 million to help build the new arena. 

“I’ve dedicated a big portion of my life to see this day arrive,” Kohl said. “A day when we, as a community, can celebrate the fact that Milwaukee will remain today, tomorrow and for all of our lifetimes an NBA city. That is why I bought the Milwaukee Bucks in 1985– to keep the team here and to make sure fans could continue to enjoy a sport they love, played by the greatest athletes on the planet. That is why I sold the team to Mark and Wes…who I knew shared a commitment to keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee. It’s also why I made my own financial commitment to build this wonderful new arena, which is essentially ensuring this franchise stays here, grows here and wins championships here.”

After the ribbon was cut, attendees could walk across the 92-foot long by 24-foot wide welcome mat– verified earlier that day by a Guinness World Records judge as the world record largest vinyl floor mat– and through the doors of Fiserv Forum for an open house event.

Almost all areas of the building, including the second-floor luxury suite level, BMO Club, and premium seating, were open and accessible to the public. Tours of the Bucks locker room were available exclusively for BMO Harris Bank card holders. Concession stands throughout the venue were also open, featuring local dining options with the arena’s MKEat food and beverage program.

The Bucks yesterday also held its fourth annual Summer Block Party on Juneau Avenue between Vel R. Phillips Avenue and Fifth Street. It featured food, children’s activities, and live music performances by local artists Grace Weber, Wait for Morning, Shonn Hinton and Shotgun, and in collaboration with the inaugural Hip Hop Week MKE, national hip-hop icon Skyzoo.

Fiserv Forum will host its grand opening show on Tuesday, Sept. 4, featuring The Killers and Milwaukee natives Violent Femmes. The Bucks will host its regular season home opener on Friday, Oct. 19, against the Indiana Pacers.

The arena will also be home to Marquette University men’s basketball, which will hold its own open house at Fiserv Forum on Aug. 29. The team will begin its season later this fall.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.