The latest addition to Milwaukee’s growing list of completed developments this year is a total game-changer. Now open, Baird Center’s new north building has more than doubled the size of the convention center, positioning Milwaukee as a premier destination for meetings and conventions.


Baird Center Interior - Stairway 2


On Thursday, May 16, leadership from the Wisconsin Center District, city and county officials and other community leaders celebrated the grand opening of the expanded and modernized Baird Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Ceremony speakers included WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, WCD Board of Directors Chairman Jim Kanter, Baird Chairman and CEO Steve Booth, Visit Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith and City of Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. High-resolution photos available for media use can be found here. High-resolution photos of the completed Baird Center expansion can be downloaded here. The recap video of yesterday’s festivities can be found here.


During the ceremony, City of Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson also read a proclamation declaring May 16 Baird Center Day.


To wrap up the milestone day for meetings and conventions in Milwaukee, students from the Milwaukee Public Schools joined Brooks for the installation of a time capsule. MPS students collected and contributed artifacts for the capsule, which will be locked in a compartment inside Baird Center for at least 50 years.


The $456 million expansion, which broke ground on October 28, 2021, brings the convention center’s size to 1.3 million square feet. The expansion brought the exhibition hall to 300,000 contiguous square feet, added 400 indoor parking spaces and the spectacular rooftop Baird Ballroom and Baird Sky View Terrace.




The expanded and modernized convention center includes intentional features like sensory rooms, nursing mother’s rooms and all-gender restrooms to ensure the building is inclusive for all. Additionally, the expansion is equipped with top-notch sustainability features like an underground stormwater management system, bird-friendly glass, an on-site food composter, and a solar roof, which are sure to contribute to a greener community. The District is also applying for LEED Silver certification.


The Wisconsin Center District achieved its diversity, equity and inclusion goals by contracting with:

  • 25.3% minority-owned businesses (25% goal).
  • 16.5% women-owned businesses (5% goal).
  • 1% disabled-veteran-owned businesses (1% goal).
  • Baird Center surpassed its overall business inclusion goal by 11.7% for a total of 42.7%.
  • On-site labor hours were performed by:
  • 47.9% Residence Preference Program (RPP) workers (40% goal). RPP workers are identified as Milwaukeeans living in the city’s most underserved zip codes.
  • 4.5% women (5% goal).
  • 1.2% disabled veterans (1% goal).
  • 42% minority workers (25% goal).




Later that evening, Baird Center hosted a private Grand Opening Gala to celebrate the occasion. Over 1,100 guests were treated to spectacular food and beverages, live entertainment and a special performance by award-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel. Baird Center was also proud to donate a majority of table sponsorship sales to two significant community organizations: the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties and the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).




This past weekend, Baird Center opened its doors to the public, inviting them to explore the magnificent new Baird Sky View Terrace, art collection and meeting rooms in the expanded Baird Center with an open house on Saturday, May 18.