Commentary: FPC Live indoor venue complex will be great addition to Third Ward

Rendering of the proposed music venue in Milwaukee's Third Ward. (Rendering: Eppstein Uhen Architects)

Last updated on January 26th, 2022 at 02:29 pm

The first local controversy of 2022 has arrived, as some Third Ward residents, businesses and Milwaukee concert venue operators are raising objections to Madison-based FPC Live’s plans to build a complex with two indoor music venues near the Summerfest grounds.

The complex would have two venues, one with a capacity for 800 people and the other with a capacity of 4,000. FPC Live says the facility is expected to host 135 events annually including concerts and private functions like weddings and corporate events.

This will be an exciting addition to Milwaukee’s entertainment scene. The parent company of FPC Live is Frank Productions, Inc., and the majority owner of Frank Productions is national concert company Live Nation, which would be able to use its connections to bring additional acts to Milwaukee.

However, some Third Ward residents are concerned about the proposal, particularly residents of the nearby Harbor Front and Hansen’s Landing condominium buildings. Issues raised by residents at a recent public information meeting include traffic, parking, noise, litter, views of the back of the building and impact on property values.

These are pretty typical “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) concerns. Yes, some of these issues will need to be managed by FPC Live. But there is an abundance of parking in that area of the Third Ward, far more than is needed on a typical day.

People who live in one of the most exciting neighborhoods of the largest city in Wisconsin, near the home of the world’s largest music festival (plus several ethnic festivals and host of additional concerts), need to realize that traffic and crowds are part of big-city living. But, yes, the people who attend concerts at the indoor venues should respect the neighborhood and behave themselves, and the operator must take responsibility for that.

Some have also raised questions about the need for another concert venue in Milwaukee and the impact it will have on existing venues. “It’s certainly not needed,” said Peter Jest, owner of Shank Hall, even though his 300-capicity venue likely won’t compete directly with the proposed facility.

The Rave/Eagles Club may be the most affected by the proposed facility because it has similar-sized concert halls and may compete for the same shows. 

Whenever someone asks how many apartments, condos, banks, fast-food restaurants, concert venues (or whatever) we need, the answer is always that the marketplace will determine it.

So, existing concert venues and theaters in Milwaukee will have to step up their game to compete with the new complex and industry giant Live Nation. That’s a good thing for Milwaukee and its entertainment scene.

And it’s going to be great for the Third Ward, too. Another attraction will make it a more desirable neighborhood to live and do business in.

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Andrew Weiland 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, Weiland is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, and son, Zachary. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys coaching his son’s youth baseball and basketball teams.

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