After the Finals put Milwaukee on the map, do we have a shot at hosting the NBA All-Star Game?
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The NBA Finals has become a three week-long commercial for Milwaukee. The city has drawn attention from tourists, national broadcasters and the NBA commissioner himself.
"It's not just an arena, it's a town hall. This is where graduations, political conventions, concerts, you name it -- it's a gathering place," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said ahead of Game 4. He called the plaza "quite spectacular."
Steve Baas, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said Milwaukee "shows better than it tells."
"It shows us off. It gives independent validation when somebody like the commissioner is talking about how great this city is, and it really is a perception changer nationwide and worldwide," Baas said.
With so much attention on this city, CBS 58 is asking what that could mean for future events like the NBA All-Star Game.
"The NBA would be crazy not to bring the All-Star Game to Milwaukee, and I think the way the Finals have played out here has shown them really what we have to offer -- from the Deer District to the facilities at the Fiserv Forum to the community itself," Baas said.
There's no denying NBA Finals have put Milwaukee on the map.
"It's beyond our wildest dreams in terms of what this has become. We wanted this to be the gathering place and then the place where everyone came together to celebrate," said Dustin Godsey, chief marketing officer of the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum.
Claire Koenig, a spokesperson for VISIT Milwaukee, said the city has lobbied for the NBA All-Star Game in past and the issue city leaders faced is the number of 4 and 5-star hotels near the Deer District.
"We simply need more rooms of that caliber to win this particular event. If Milwaukee were to get more of these, we would be excellent contenders to host," Koenig said in an email.
The Bucks aren't speculating about whether the All-Star Game has a future in Milwaukee, but the team said it's setting a template for other markets about what's possible in spaces like the Deer District.
"For us, whether it's additional development down here for pitching for future events, things like that -- we now have something where we can really showcase what this is versus what our vision of what it could be," Godsey said.
Groundbreaking for a new boutique hotel across the street is expected this fall, and it is scheduled to open in early 2023.
For brothers Ben Lubeck and Matthew Nichols, who moved away from Wisconsin, the Finals have provided a reason to bring them back.
"I was hoping that I would be able to see it in my lifetime and here we are. It's beautiful," said Lubeck, a Bucks fan from Minneapolis.
"It means everything. I still have a business here in Milwaukee, and coming back and just seeing everything kind of revolve around the Fiserv Forum is just so exciting," said Nichols, a Bucks fan from Atlanta.
The team and city leaders are happy tourists are coming to see the Bucks' vision become a reality.
"I wasn't expecting it," said Esmeralda Esparza, who is visiting Milwaukee from Chicago. "We happened to just try to ... get something to drink, and then someone is like, 'Oh you should go visit Deer District.' I had no idea what Deer District was. I didn't know what to expect. Once we parked, I was like, 'Wow.'"