MILWAUKEE — It's a big day for college basketball in Milwaukee as Fiserv Forum hosts the Wisconsin Badgers and the Colgate Raiders as they face off in the NCAA tournament.
Tip off is set for 8:50 p.m.
Fiserv Forum will host eight teams in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.
- Punch Bowl Social reopening ahead of NCAA tournament at Fiserv Forum
- Three events happening in Milwaukee for Friday's Badger game
Big for local businesses
Officials with Fiserv Forum say it's going to be packed. They are opening up Deer District and the beer garden. There will be food and drinks available for purchase on and near the plaza. Punch Bowl Social is opening back up again. Officials say they are following city health guidance, and there will be no Covid-19 capacity limits or mask requirements.
"This is going to feel like, I think, the closest thing we've had to a Bucks playoff experience that we've had since the finals," said Michael Belot. "So anybody who has a ticket obviously is going to have a tremendous experience inside Fiserv Forum, but I think what's cool is you're also going to be able to have that experience outside and a little taste of what you felt in the playoffs last year."
He said they are treating parking the way they did during the finals—using what's already available. He said it may be full, and people can find parking in other places around the city.
Around the corner at Brick 3 Pizza, staff is also working ahead.
"A lot of boxes right now, folding our boxes, a lot of prep work," said manager Keith Kruser.
At Who's on Third, staff says they are setting up extra bars inside and are getting their staff energized. They want to make sure fans have just as good of a time at a nearby business as they would inside Fiserv.
"This is what our jobs is, serve people, make them happy and just get the crowd going," said manager Gabriel Burkhalter. "I am pumped. It's nice to have something like this after all of Covid."
Fans flock to Milwaukee to see their teams in the big dance
Friday marked a busy day as the arena and surrounding businesses hosted teams and fans for the tournament. All of them said they were excited to see their team playing in the big dance.
Fans from all over the country made their way to Milwaukee to cheer on their teams.
TMJ4 News caught up with Jake Tipton just 30 minutes into his first trip to Brew City. His immediate impression was favorable.
"I like it. It's a little bigger than I expected it to be,” he said.
Other fans, like Thom Loebach, comes back to Milwaukee every single year.
"I just love basketball, period,” he said. “It's just wide open this year."
As the fans filed in, so did some parents.
Lou Stefanovic, a former player drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in '85, was back in Milwaukee to cheer on his son.
"My son Sasha Stefanovic, he plays for the Purdue team and he's a senior this year,” he said.
Deer District officials said they're expecting tens of thousands and hoping to make a good impression.
"Really, there's nothing that we can't host, whether that's the DNC. We're finalists for the RNC. The NBA Finals. We're welcoming any and all events to the city of Milwaukee,” said Michael Belot, a Senior Vice President with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Loebach offered a little advice for people taking in Milwaukee, and the games over the weekend.
“Get here early, get parkin' and enjoy the sights as sounds,” he said.