MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Center began pouring concrete on Tuesday, marking the $420-million project’s first large concrete pour for the expanded convention center’s storm trap.
The President & CEO of the Wisconsin Center District, Marty Brooks, is dreaming about the projected opening in 2024.
The plot of land immediately north of the current convention space is the site for a long-discussed, and according to supporters, much-needed expansion of the Wisconsin Center.
The WCD Board gave a final green light to the plan in spring, despite the uncertainty of the business due to COVID.
The expansion will nearly double the size of the Wisconsin Center. Supporters have long claimed the City has missed opportunities for conventions because the building couldn’t support them. Brooks says it’s not only about booking larger conventions but about flexibility, being able to book multiple conventions to run at the same time.
Brooks confirmed at least one scenario already for 2024 where the Wisconsin Center is double-booked, utilizing the new space the addition will provide to secure a contract Milwaukee otherwise would have lost.
The WCD is publicly funded. In addition to its earned revenue, the District is supported by public dollars. The WCD benefits from a city hotel tax, a county hotel tax, a county-wide food and beverage tax, and a rental car fee added at the airport. Only the county hotel tax was raised, half of one percent, to help fund the expansion. While Brooks says he takes the responsibility of public funding very seriously, he also notes much of it comes from outside the area.
He believes the entire city and county will enjoy the benefit. Beginning with the construction contract alone, the WCD inserted a robust community benefits package. Twenty-five percent will contract with minority-owned businesses, five percent women-owned businesses, and one percent disabled veteran-owned businesses.
Additionally, the project will insist that 40 percent of the construction jobs will go to City of Milwaukee residents. The total cost of wages alone is estimated at $100 million.
The opening is projected for early 2024.
Click here to see additional renderings and details on the project from the Wisconsin Center District.