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The Rave fights back against Deer District concert venue development

The concert venue is asking people to sign a petition arguing against the new development.
Posted at 9:26 AM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 14:15:13-04

MILWAUKEE — The Rave Eagles Club is promoting a petition arguing against the development of a new concert venue in Milwaukee's Deer District.

A post on Instagram said the venue can no longer be silent, and the time to act is now. The Rave said these new developments threaten, "the very existence of Milwaukee's vibrant local music scene."

A group called "Save MKE's Music Scene" organized the petition that went out this week. Craig Peterson, a spokesperson for the group, said they are a coalition made up of music venues impacted by the proposed development, people in the hospitality industry, and residents.

According to the petition, the venues will take its 135 shows away from The Riverside Theater, The Rave/Eagles Club, The Pabst Theater, Turner Hall, The Milwaukee Theater, The BMO Harris Pavilion, Shank Hall, and Cactus Club.

The petition also states there's not a strong enough security plan in place downtown to ensure the safety of concertgoers.

Recent overcapacity events at the Deer District have also hurt the hospitality industry, the petition says.

"The lack of facilities in the Deer District has resulted in thousands of people overflowing into our bars and restaurants on Third Street and Water Street. Our businesses are unprepared to accommodate large crowds of non-patrons. Live Nation/Ticketmaster will now increase this activity for 135 days and nights a year," the petition reads.

"The community is upset about the idea of the potential loss of these iconic music venues which will occur. These music venues will go out of business," Peterson said.

Peterson and the petition also point to Frank Productions' ties to concert giant Live Nation as a major concern.

"For the folks who say this is good for competition it's the complete opposite this is the absence competition," Peterson said.

The development was announced in May. It would have a capacity of about 4,000 people in one space and 800 in the other space.

During the announcement, organizers said the two venues will provide "a wide variety of first-class experiences and amenities for eventgoers and artists." FPC Live - part of Frank Productions - expects the venues to host 135 events and bring 200,000 fans downtown every year.

"The notion that Milwaukee is a zero-sum game has filled its potential for a music city is disingenuous," Joel Plant, CEO of Frank Productions, countered.

Plant and Peter Feigin, president of the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum, responded to the criticism saying their project will benefit all venues.

"Our project is building two rooms that do not exist in size or in style or in amenities today in Milwaukee that's the gap that we're trying to fill," Plant said.

"This is about the future. This is about creating win-win situation for the city of Milwaukee," Feigin said.

Feigin and Plant noted public safety is a priority and they are already meeting with police to develop plans.

A final design for the proposed music venues is expected to go to the plan commission next week. Plant said they could see Common Council take action in November and if it all goes well they would break ground shortly after.

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