Wisconsin Center Breaks Ground on 2024 Expansion
Expanded convention center will increase size to 445,000 total sq. ft. including a larger exhibit hall and rooftop ballroom with outdoor terrace overlooking downtown
MILWAUKEE - (Oct. 28, 2021) – The long-awaited convention center expansion reached a major milestone today with the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) breaking ground on the construction site. In addition to WCD leaders and staff, several local leaders, government officials, and additional guests attended the Thursday groundbreaking ceremony.
Speakers 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 WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks.
“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.”
With a planned Q1 2024 open date, the expanded Wisconsin Center will offer 445,000 sq. ft. of total convention space. That space includes a rooftop ballroom with a terrace overlooking downtown Milwaukee; a 300,000 contiguous sq. ft. exhibit hall; 24 additional meeting rooms for a total of 52; a minimum of 400 indoor parking spots; and six new loading docks. The project includes modernizing the existing facility’s interior as well.
“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.”
Designed with meeting planner input and located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, the 300,000-square-foot Wisconsin Center convention space offers the ultimate in versatility, functionality, and style. But planners deserve more. More space for larger and simultaneous events. More flexible areas to accommodate events of all scales. More access for loading and unloading. More modern facilities to inspire innovation.
The WCD is building more. The Wisconsin Center expansion is set for a 2024 opening, but the WCD could not wait until then to give everyone a sneak peek inside. A flythrough video lifts the expansion renderings off the page and into virtual reality, taking viewers inside the soon-to-be expanded space. Stay tuned to VISIT Milwaukee’s convention center expansion page to learn more about the project and the upcoming milestones.
“Groups have already booked events in the expanded convention center, and we have received a lot of interest from organizers interested in hosting their events in the new space,” said Leslie Johnson, vice president of sales for VISIT Milwaukee. “We are strongly encouraging meeting, convention, and event planners to start making plans today for their Wisconsin Center bookings in 2024 and beyond.”
Pictured from left to right:
City of Milwaukee Development Commissioner Lafayette Crump, Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks, WCD Board Chair Jim Kanter, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, WCD Board Member and Milwaukee Fourth District Alderman Bob Bauman, VISIT Milwaukee Board Chair and Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO Dr. Eve M. Hall, VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith.
About VISIT Milwaukee
VISIT Milwaukee is a community asset that markets the destination as a top choice for business, convention, and leisure travel to national and international visitors to increase the economic impact of tourism in the region. VISIT Milwaukee has over 600 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services, and area businesses. The Wisconsin Center District, which is undergoing a large-scale expansion slated for completion in 2024, and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call (800) 554-1448 or visit www.visitmilwaukee.org.
About the Wisconsin Center District and the Wisconsin Center
Experience-obsessed and committed to creating unforgettable moments, the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) is a quasi-governmental body that operates the Wisconsin Center, which in 2021 will begin undergoing a $420 million expansion to double its size; UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena; and Miller High Life Theatre in downtown Milwaukee. The WCD venues are within walking distance of leading hotels, retail establishments, attractions, dining, nightclubs and transportation. Created under Wisconsin State Statute in 1994, the WCD offers captivating- and buzzworthy-experiences, making Milwaukee a not-to-be-missed destination.
The Wisconsin Center, located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, is the hub of convention business in Wisconsin and is ideal for trade and consumer shows, conventions, banquets, business meetings, and celebrations. Currently, the Wisconsin Center offers 188,695 square feet of contiguous exposition space and 37,500 square feet of ballroom space, accommodating up to 1,000 vendors and 10,000 guests. More intimate spaces are also available for groups as small as 10.