Wisconsin Center District board chooses new leader

Marty Brooks previously was exec for convention center and stadium in St. Louis

Wisconsin Center
The Wisconsin Center

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

The Wisconsin Center District board today named Marty Brooks to replace Russ Staerkel as the WCD’s chief executive officer.

Wisconsin Center
The Wisconsin Center

Brooks has experience running multiple convention centers, theaters, and sports venues.

Most recently, Brooks was senior vice president and general manager for the Edwards Jones Dome and America’s Center complex in St. Louis. The Edward Jones Dome is where the St. Louis Rams played before they moved back to Los Angeles. The America’s Center is a 503,000-square-foot convention center.

Before that, Brooks was executive vice president and general manager of the Scottrade Center and Peabody Opera House in St. Louis. The Scottrade Center is a 20,000 seat arena where the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues play.

Brooks also worked as senior vice president and general manager of the Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut, president and executive producer of the Miss Universe pageant, senior vice president for the MSG Network and director of sports programming for the USA Network.

As the leader of the Wisconsin Center District, Brooks will oversee operations of the downtown Milwaukee convention center, the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, the Miller High Life Theatre and the new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Marty’s hiring signals a new and dynamic era for the (Wisconsin) Center District,” said Scott Neitzel, WCD board chairman. “The board looks forward to working with Marty and our community partners to further expand economic activity in and around southeastern Wisconsin.”

“The search committee identified Marty as the person to add more fuel to the renaissance that is happening in Milwaukee,” said Jim Kanter, general manager for MillerCoors and chair of the WCD CEO Search Committee. “Marty brings great energy and experience to take the wonderful suite of assets we already have with the Miller High Life Theatre, UWM Panther Arena, convention center and new Bucks arena to the next level.”

Brooks’ first day will be Jan. 22. His annual salary will be $260,000 plus available performance incentives based on customer satisfaction, venue attendance, bookings and revenue growth.

“Milwaukee reminds me a lot of my home town of Baltimore, charming city that is going through a dramatic revitalization, great sports teams and never-ending choices of distinct food and beverages,” Brooks said.

“On behalf of Visit Milwaukee, I’d like to welcome Marty Brooks to the Wisconsin Center District and the Milwaukee area,” said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of Visit Milwaukee. “His operations expertise for convention centers, theaters, and arenas will play well here in Milwaukee and will boost the already strong schedule of events at our Wisconsin Center facilities. He is a great addition to the team, and we look forward to working closely with Marty to further build on the success of the district and bring even more events and conventions to the region. I’d also like to thank outgoing CEO Russ Staerkel, who served the Wisconsin Center in multiple capacities with great dedication. With the support and partnership of the WCD, we have built a strong base of convention business for the future that will continue to grow our local economy and create jobs.”

“Marty is the perfect leader to help execute on a new vision for the WCD,” said Omar Shaikh, chairman of VISIT Milwaukee and search committee member. “I look forward to partnering with him and his team.”

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Andrew Weiland
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.