Last updated on September 20th, 2021 at 08:44 am
The Wisconsin Center District, which owns and operates the downtown Milwaukee convention center and other venues, is requiring all of its employees to be vaccinated from COVID-19 by Nov. 1.
Marty Brooks, chief executive officer of WCD, told members of the district Board of Directors this morning that all employees will be required to submit proof of vaccination by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29.
If they don’t, they will have “voluntarily resigned,” Brooks said.
The requirements extend to the district’s three largest contractors, Conference Technologies Inc., Levy Restaurants and Per Mar Security Services.
It comes as the country grapples with another surge in COVID-19 cases, brought on by the delta variant.
The surge has led to the postponement of two events at the Miller High Life Theatre, Brooks said. Both events centered on children. Peppa Pig’s Adventure was scheduled for early October and a Disney Princess concert was slated for December. Both are expected to return in 2022.
“We’ve been told by both show promoters that they will be rescheduled for next year, but with the concern of the delta variant, those two events have been postponed,” Brooks said.
WCD will also require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for a Judas Priest concert on Wednesday.
“We’ll be assessing our protocols for future shows, based on information from the health department and the CDC,” he said.
There are still a number of events booked for the theater in the coming months. Various sports teams also plan to use the UWM Panther Arena. Brooks noted the arena has a full slate of UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball and hockey games. WCD is also in talks with the Milwaukee Wave soccer team to host its 12 home games for the 2021-22 season.
Another bright spot for the convention center has been the successful (and extended) run of the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit. Brooks said the event has sold more than 134,000 tickets. It runs through the end of October.
Brooks said WCD set an “aggressive goal” of 175,000 ticket sales to Beyond Van Gogh. It appears that it will reach 165,000 tickets sold.
“But still, a very strong performance from a property that was unknown to us prior to February of this year,” Brooks said. He has said previously that Beyond Van Gogh’s success could open the door to WCD hosting similar types of events in the future.
In other business, board members approved a refinancing plan that will save the district around $200,000 to $250,000 annually on debt payments.
The savings come from more favorable interest rates. WCD will later this year issue new bonds of up to $29 million in value to replace bonds taken out in 2013. The debt will be paid off in 2032, the same timeline as with the existing bonding.