Latest DNC plans would have convention center used for caucuses, media compound

Miller High Life Theatre could be used for DNC-sanctioned private events

Marty Brooks, CEO of the Wisconsin Center District
Marty Brooks, CEO of the Wisconsin Center District

The latest plans for the Democratic National Convention’s use of Wisconsin Center District-controlled buildings in downtown Milwaukee would have caucus groups and reporters stationed inside of the convention center, with other buildings being used for larger groups and private events.

Wisconsin Center District president and chief executive officer Marty Brooks said on Friday that nothing has been made final with DNC organizers on how exactly the district’s buildings will be used during the July 2020 convention, though they have some specific ideas.

The four-day convention is centered around the Fiserv Forum, which is owned by WCD but is being leased to the Bucks. However, the DNC also plans to use the WCD-controlled Wisconsin Center, Miller High Life Theatre and UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for other events.

Brooks said the latest he’s heard from organizers is that the first two floors of the convention hall would be used for caucuses, or meetings of Democratic Party members and officials. The upper level would be the site of the “media compound,” he said.

“We’re optimistic that the media will be used upstairs, but more will come on that,” Brooks said during a WCD board of directors meeting on Friday.

The Panther Arena may be used for larger caucuses and the theater could be used for DNC-sanctioned private events, he added.

Also, a convention official is scheduled to address WCD staff early next month.

Brooks told board members that the district will hold a town hall event for all district employees on Sept. 4. Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, will be a guest speaker at the event.

Gilbert’s comments will be aimed at motivating the staff and explaining their importance for making the convention a success, Brooks said.

The DNC has put a spotlight on the city of Milwaukee, including its downtown convention center, even though the convention itself is still about a year away. Brooks said in May that in the weeks after Milwaukee was named the host city, WCD had seen increased interest from convention organizers.

He said that over a five-day period in late April alone, the district hosted nine different site visits. Brooks called it a “significant uptick in interest in the convention business in Milwaukee.”

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.