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The impact Milwaukee concert venues face amid 2 new downtown venues

Linneman's riverwest inn
Posted at 4:45 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 19:39:26-04

MILWAUKEE — Two new concert venues are set to open in the Deer District late next year with a total capacity of about 4,800 people. A longtime music promoter reacted to the news on Monday.

Jim Linneman is well versed in the Milwaukee music scene. He has been a part of it for nearly three decades with his venue Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.

"For 29 years we have been a small to medium sized music venue,” said Linneman.

Jim Linneman
Jim Linneman stands in front of his stage at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn at 1001 E Locust St, Milwaukee.

He says when it comes to the entertainment industry, it has always been competitive.

"There is always going to be competition among venues and live music. We have it. We have lived with it for 29 years. These new venues are going to be competing against each other,” said Linneman.

fpc live music venues
A rendering of the new event spaces in the Deer District on the former Bradley Center site.

Two new venues are in the works to be built in downtown Milwaukee. One that's being dubbed the Iron District will be built near the I-794/I-43 Interchange close to the Marquette campus and the other will be at the former Bradley Center site in the Deer District. The Iron District site will include a sports venue and indoor concert space that can host up to 3,500 people. The site in the Deer District will have two different concert halls, one that will have a capacity of 800 people, the other will have a capacity of 4,000.

Editor of the Milwaukee Business Journal, Mark Kaas, wonders what that will mean for other concert venues in the area.

“I think it is a reach to think they will survive long term and not impact others in the city already built, whether that is the Marcus Center, the Miller High Life Theater, whether it is. The Rave. There are a lot of theaters already here that are already very successful,” said Kaas.

LETSCHE downtown milwaukee venues map.png

In Milwaukee, there are more than a dozen live music venues, which regularly host shows for hundreds of people. Kaas says those places might need to do renovations to stay relevant for artists.

On top of that, he doesn't think Milwaukee's music scene has enough concert goers to support all the venues.

"They are going to have to draw from wider, kind of, as I said they are going to have to draw from the Appleton, from the Green Bay, from the Chicago-area, just because of our population really isn't growing that much,” said Kaas.

Linneman's riverwest inn
Jim Linneman walks on his stage at Linneman's Riverwest Inn.

But the idea that more people will potentially be drawn to Milwaukee excites Linneman.

"There are going to be people who going to flock there from other areas of the state, other areas of the country who are going to be leaving those areas and coming to smaller areas like ours after the show and I think it is a plus, plus,” said Linneman.

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