Wisconsin Center Breaks Ground On $420 Million Expansion

November 9, 2021

The city of Milwaukee will soon be doubling the size of its convention center via a multi-million-dollar expansion project. On Oct. 28, the Wisconsin Center District celebrated its long-awaited plan to grow the Wisconsin Center by hosting a groundbreaking ceremony attended by WCD leaders and staff, several local leaders, government officials and additional guests.

Speakers at the event included Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan; Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley; VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith; VISIT Milwaukee Board Chair Dr. Eve Hall; WCD Board Chair Jim Kanter; and Marty Brooks, president and CEO of the WCD, a quasi-governmental body that operates the Wisconsin Center, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and Miller High Life Theatre in downtown Milwaukee. 

Wisconsin Center expo hall

“Today’s groundbreaking is the formal celebration of our $420 million expansion that has been years in the making,” Brooks said. “Doubling the size of the convention center allows us to execute multiple, simultaneous and overlapping events, bringing even more visitors to Milwaukee. Meeting planners can expect flexible space, robust IT infrastructure and top-of-the-line health and safety features, along with our signature bold, proud, experience-obsessed delivery of service. I couldn’t be more excited for the future.”

Expected to take 24 months and be completed in early 2024, the expanded facility will offer 445,000 sq. ft. of total convention space, including a 300,000-contiguous-sq.-ft. exhibit hall; 24 additional meeting rooms for a total of 52; a new executive kitchen; a fourth-floor rooftop ballroom with a terrace overlooking downtown Milwaukee; a minimum of 400 indoor parking spots; and six new loading docks. The project will also modernize the existing facility’s interior.  

Designed with meeting planner input, the soon-to-be expanded facility will not only offer more modern, functional and flexible spaces capable of accommodating groups of all sizes but also draw in larger events that can either overlap or occur simultaneously.  

According to Leslie Johnson, vice president of sales for VISIT Milwaukee, groups are already booking events in the expanded convention center, and the CVB is continuing to receive a lot of interest from show organizers interested in hosting their events in the new space. 

Wisconsin Center

“We are strongly encouraging meeting, convention and event planners to start making plans today for their Wisconsin Center bookings in 2024 and beyond,” Johnson said.

Built in 1998, the current Wisconsin Center offers 188,695 square feet of contiguous exposition space and 37,500 square feet of ballroom space. 

“This event marks the beginning of the Wisconsin Center’s thrilling next chapter,” Williams-Smith said. “An expanded convention center means more business, more visitors and more national exposure for Milwaukee. This translates into billions of dollars in additional tourism spending to our community.”

To learn more and check out a fly-through video of the expansion, go here.

 

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: