Data show city received a much-needed boost in spending thanks to hometown team’s historic run

Today VISIT Milwaukee released updated estimates of the economic impact that the Milwaukee Bucks’ historic championship run brought to the city. The total economic impact of the three rounds of playoff games as well as the NBA Finals is estimated to have brought $57.6 million in direct and indirect spending to the community.

“We’re incredibly grateful that the Milwaukee Bucks’ fantastic run brought a vital boost to our economy,” says VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith. “These dollars pumped much-needed life into many of the businesses that struggled the most during the pandemic, and they helped support thousands of jobs. I’m now hoping our beloved Milwaukee Brewers’ and their forthcoming post-season can do the same.”

High-Level Estimated Economic Impact Data

  • First Round (May 22-29 vs. the Miami Heat): $2.7 million in total economic impact

            $1,491,687 in direct, $1,225,642 in indirect and induced

  • Second Round (June 5-19 vs. the New Jersey Nets): $12.8 million in total economic impact

            $7,030,063 in direct, $5,816,500 in indirect and induced

  • Third Round (June 23-July 3, vs. the Atlanta Hawks): $14.1 million in total economic impact

            $7,757,764 in direct, $6,395,664 in indirect and induced

  • NBA Finals (July 6-July 20 vs. the Phoenix Suns): $28 million in total economic impact (NBA Finals Game 6 alone: $5.8 in total economic impact, with an 82% occupancy rate downtown and a $240 average daily rate)

            $15,546,762 in direct, $12,656,750 in direct and induced

The total economic impact figures include estimates of spending at lodging, transportation, food and beverage, retail, recreation, venue rental, and business services companies. The data also include estimates of indirect impact and induced economic impact – the money spent between businesses to support this activity and the money spent by employees of those companies. The entire Championship run generated $1.107 million in total local taxes.

Total Estimated Direct Impact by Spending Type for Entire Playoff Run:

  • Lodging: $8,424,845
  • Transportation: $4,258,004
  • Food and Beverage: $5,219,209
  • Retail: $5,819,003
  • Recreation: $6,586,263
  • Space Rental: $38,521
  • Business Services: $1,210,430

For the month of July, downtown hotel demand was driven by Bucks’ fans, sports media, the NBA, and a few c orporate partners. There were relatively few other meetings and conventions in the market that month generating significant hotel demand.

Playoffs’ Downtown Hotel Occupancy Rates and Average Daily Hotel Rates

Includes both home and away games

  • Round 1 (4 games): Avg occupancy 52%, avg ADR $128
  • Round 2 (7 games): Avg occupancy 50%, avg ADR $133
  • Round 3 (6 games): Avg occupancy 55%, avg ADR $136
  • Finals (6 games): Avg occupancy 64%, avg ADR $143

The data is based on attendance figures provided by the Milwaukee Bucks, room blocks booked by VISIT Milwaukee, and additional third-party information; it was calculated using Destination Internationals’ economic impact calculator for sports events, an investment VISIT Milwaukee made as it continues to attract larger sports events through the work of Sports Milwaukee.

Other data support the impact of Bucks’ post-season run. According to passenger data from the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, enplanements and deplanements rose in June and July, with total deplanements increasing 12% in July over June. Compared to June and July 2020, total deplanements for those months increased 206% and 166%, respectively. While these figures don’t point to exact visitor numbers, they suggest an increase in visitor arrivals and underscore the ongoing economic recovery.   

The effect of the games went far beyond economic impact – the media spotlight the games generated offered a once-in-a-generation chance at branding the city on a worldwide stage. In fact, between July 18-24, 2021, “Milwaukee” as a Google search term was more popular than it’s been in five years, according to Google Trends. According to media reporting service Meltwater, the playoffs and Finals generated over 331 billion earned media impressions about the Milwaukee Bucks, nearly the same amount generated during the rest of the season (December through early May).

VISIT Milwaukee took advantage of this spotlight by running a 30-second commercial called Powered by the People in drive-in markets during two rounds of post-season play. Its marketing and communications teams also seized the moment and deployed several targeted email campaigns to travel media and sports meeting planners, reminding them of the incredible opportunities within the Deer District. With a reach of over 225,000, VISIT Milwaukee’s social channels heavily promoted hotel stays during the playoffs with both paid and organic posts.

VISIT Milwaukee continues to capitalize on the Bucks win as it markets the city as the best place in the country for a meeting or convention. Most recently, VISIT Milwaukee partnered with the Milwaukee Bucks’ DJ Shawna to create a captivating presentation about the city as part of a sponsorship at the Connect Marketplace trade show, a show that brings together about 1,000 meeting planners from around the country.

“The world now knows that Milwaukee is a city of champions and that excitement clearly resonated with thousands of local fans and visitors. Whether through special promotions, signage, watch parties, and more, I’m so proud of the way our community showed up to welcome all those who came to experience a game in the Deer District,” says Williams-Smith.


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