Wisconsin Center District begins multi-million dollar expansion on convention center
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Center expansion broke ground Thursday morning, Oct. 28. The Wisconsin Center District president, Marty Brooks, and other driving forces behind the expansion were the first to put their shovels to the dirt.
The lot on Kilbourn, just north of the convention center, has been a parking lot since the building went up in 1998. Now it will be the area where 150,000 square feet of convention space is built, doubling the number of meeting rooms at the current convention center.
"The real opportunity lies in being able to attract comparable events of the same size that can either overlap or occur simultaneously," said Marty Brooks, the Wisconsin Center District president and CEO.
Brooks says the $420 million expansion will connect people who come to Milwaukee for a convention to other parts of the city, like Fiserv Forum.
"I think having a public space that's inviting to people on the street will serve as a terrific thoroughfare to the Deer District," said Brooks.
Construction is expected to be finished by the summer of 2024. It could be just in time for upcoming political conventions.
"If the stars align we could get one of both, who knows? But that's not the motivating factor here," said Brooks.
He says this expansion has been 20 years in the making, since the building was first erected.
VISIT Milwaukee President Peggy Williams-Smith said the expansion is a big draw and it puts Milwaukee on the level of other larger cities with convention centers.
"We didn't sign any contracts until we knew it was a done deal, but we already have groups booked into the new expansion of the convention center starting in the second quarter of 2024, so the construction's got to be on time," said Williams-Smith.
The expansion was paid for in bonds that the district will repay over the next 40 years.
Brooks also said now that the expansion has broke ground, they're looking for someone to sponsor the naming rights of the Wisconsin Center.