Top uses for Wisconsin Center District facilities

The Public Record

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

As debate continues about a possible expansion of the downtown convention center, Wisconsin Center District officials sought to better understand how their current facilities function. Consultants hired to examine operations made it clear the facilities weren’t the worst they had seen, but there was room for improvement.

Crossroads Consulting Services LLC and Barrett Sports Group LLC compared WCD facilities with comparable operations around the country. Their conclusion? The facilities are well-managed and -maintained, but underutilized and in some cases, in need of continued investment.

“If you look at the district facilities as a whole, you’re below average,” said Susan Sieger, president of Crossroads.

The district was in the bottom half for events and attendance among comparable complexes in cities that included Bakersfield, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; Duluth, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Greensboro, North Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; Spokane, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona.

But just what are the three WCD facilities being used for on a regular basis? BizTimes analyzed data from the consultants’ report to determine the top event types at each facility based on attendance over the past five years.


The Wisconsin Center

Consumer/public shows – 41%

Conventions/tradeshows – 24%

Meetings/conferences – 11%

Sporting events – 11%

Banquets/receptions – 7%


UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Assemblies/graduations – 24%

Shrine Circus – 19%

Wave games – 16%

Disney on Ice – 12%

UWM games – 6%

*Doesn’t include full season of Admirals hockey


Miller High Life Theatre.

Concerts – 35%

Assemblies/graduations – 29%

Other – 21%

Broadway shows – 14%

Disney shows – 1%

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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