Bucks postseason run brings much-needed economic boost to downtown businesses

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff run is firing up enthusiasm for fans and cash registers for businesses.

On Old World Third Street, bars and restaurants near Fiserv Forum said the past few weeks have brought their biggest surge in business since the pandemic began. They point to relaxed Covid restrictions in the city as well as the return of playoff basketball.

“As soon as they increased the amount of people allowed at Bucks games, people just started flooding the streets again,” Angie Larson, a bartender at Milwaukee Brat House, told CBS 58. “It’s been amazing.”

“We’re hopeful that the season, the playoffs is going to last quite a while for the Bucks,” Dave Gawlick, the director of operations for Cream City Concepts, said in an interview. Oak Barrel Pub, Third Street Tavern and Who’s on Third belong to Cream City Concepts. “So that’s going to mean a lot of return business for us with people coming to us to watch away games like today or for home games while trying to make up for everything we lost last year with no playoff games locally, it’s really nice for the city to see that energy back.”

Westown Association told CBS 58 while bars and restaurants are the most visible beneficiaries of the Bucks playoff boost, other businesses get an economic lift as well.

“The Bucks, like all major events, drive traffic to our downtown,” Westown Association Executive Director Stacie Callies said. “Especially our hotels which have been heavily hurt during the pandemic, but also our parking operators are another business owner that aren’t often thought of.”

Callies said the Bucks' playoff run is just the start of what is hoped to be a summer and fall of economic recovery.

“The business owners have been waiting for the day for the Bucks and other events to come back to downtown, to bring that traffic back,” Callies said.

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