Downtown Milwaukee hotels fill up as city prepares to host NBA Finals games

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Having a winning team has been a big boost to our economy. Visit Milwaukee says even before the schedule was released for the Bucks and the Suns, downtown hotels were booking up as Bucks fans got prepared.

It's Game 3, but the very first NBA Finals match-up that Milwaukee gets to host.

"Well it's a huge economic shot in the arm," said Steve Baas, vice president for government affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

The Deer District draws crowds on game days, but the leisure industry's expecting a spending burst this weekend, too. That's because some ticketholders are here a day early. 

"It's just such a great buzz. You have autograph-seekers waiting for the teams coming out of the hotels, even during the day, and they're all out here eating, they're staying in the hotels," said Baas.

The latest numbers from Visit Milwaukee show hotel occupancies are climbing, at 53 percent the week of June 20. That's up 5 percent from the previous week.

"I'm absolutely sure that the Milwaukee Bucks is definitely helping those numbers They are truly contributing to our local economy and helping our city come back," said Lindsey McKee, Visit Milwaukee communications manager.

Visit Milwaukee's expecting a similar benefit to what the NBA Finals gave another Midwestern city.

"If we look at Cleveland, when the Cavaliers had their 2018 run, they experienced a $3.7 million economic impact," said McKee.

That's for each game. Fans this weekend are doing touristy things. 

"Birdie wants to tell people 'welcome to Milwaukee,'" said Bill Pariso and Birdie Brinn at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum.

You can get tickets to the children's museum at the door. But to guarantee a spot, get them online. 

Other museums, breweries, the Milwaukee County Zoo and Potawatomi Casino all expect to see an influx of visitors. 

Bill says his friend Birdie is ready for the game. 

"Birdie is a huge Bucks fan. Birdie really wants to see them win. She likes to see her friend Bango out on the floor getting everyone excited," said Bill.

To see some of the featured events for this weekend, check out Milwaukee365.com.

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