By Claire Koenig
The Board of the Wisconsin Center District (WCD), which owns and operates the Wisconsin Center, Miller High Life Theatre and UW-M Panther Arena, authorized the WCD to finalize an agreement with Baird to become the official naming rights partner of the Wisconsin Center.
“The WCD leadership team and I are dedicated to leveraging our core values to Be Bold. Be Proud. Be Experience Obsessed. to guide every business decision we make,” said WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks. “Since our Board trusted our bold vision and authorized the expansion project in 2020, we knew that a naming rights agreement would follow. The ideal naming rights partner would be homegrown, have a world-class reputation and, for the greatest possible success, share our core values and commitment to the city of Milwaukee. Baird meets and exceeds those qualifications and will give our convention center, and our city, yet another spectacular reason for visitors to add Milwaukee to their list of not-to-be-missed destinations.”
“This agreement fits with our ongoing efforts to build Baird’s brand across our global footprint and reflects our longstanding commitment to giving back to the communities where we live and work,” said Baird Chairman and CEO Steve Booth. “The new state of the art convention center will enhance Milwaukee’s growing reputation as a modern, forward-looking city, and we are honored to support and be part of its success.”
The expansion of the Wisconsin Center, a $456 million project, broke ground on October 28, 2021, and is anticipated to open in May 2024. Upon completion the combined north and south buildings will house 52 meeting rooms, a 300,000 contiguous sq ft exhibit hall, 22 total loading docks, a 400-stall indoor parking garage, and a spectacular new rooftop ballroom with seating for 2,000 and sweeping outdoor terraces. The expanded venue will also include quiet rooms, nursing mother’s rooms, dedicated gender-neutral restrooms and a robust public art program telling the story of Milwaukee. Fixtures such as wayfinding, carpeting and lighting will be consistent through the north and the south buildings to enhance the guest experience, and the venue is pursuing LEED Silver certification. The WCD has self-mandated rigorous minority-owned business inclusion goals on the project of 25 percent minority-owned businesses, five percent women-owned businesses, and one percent disabled veteran-owned businesses, as well as a 40 percent residents preference program (RPP) goal, mandating that a minimum of 40 percent of the labor workforce on site reside in Milwaukee’s most underserved zip codes.
Founded in 1919, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Baird has provided trusted financial advice and services through changing market cycles and across generations. Today Baird serves individuals, families, and public entities throughout the United States as well as corporations and institutions around the world. Notably, since its inception Baird has followed the principles of integrity, transparency, teamwork, and keeping clients first. Together these ideals form the foundation of their unique culture and approach to doing business – also known as The Baird Way.
“Since the vote to authorize the expansion of the Wisconsin Center in April of 2020, the WCD Board has acted boldly to continue to enhance Milwaukee as a world-class destination,” said Jim Kanter, Chairman of the WCD Board. “For us to now sign-off on a long-term partnership with a hometown institution like Baird is a tremendous representation of how the Board and the entire WCD Leadership Team continue to work together to move things forward and make Milwaukee a destination for conventions and events for many years to come.”
Brokered by Legends, a global premium experiences company, the agreement will formally initiate when the expanded convention center opens in May 2024. The balance of 2023 will be used as a transition year as the branding and logo package for the venue is designed and rolled out. The new mark for the venue will be revealed at the formal Topping Off ceremony, April 11, which will commemorate the placement of the last piece of structural steel and start a new phase of construction of the expanded Wisconsin Center.
Claire Koenig is Director of Communications at VISIT Milwaukee.