Local Leaders Celebrate “Completion” of $456 Million Convention Center Expansion

Financial Planners

On Wednesday, a banner bearing the name of the contractor and designer of the expanded convention center, “Baird Center,” hung from the last beam of the structure. (Carla Spot/BizTimes)

The $456 million expansion to the 25-year-old convention center in downtown Milwaukee reached a major milestone Wednesday afternoon. Stakeholders, including Governor Tony Evers, gathered to mark the placement of the last structural billet in place.

The installation of the final beam, the last of the approximately 6,000 tons of steel that went into the project, paved the way for the remaining 317 days of construction work on the site, giving Milwaukee residents and visitors a hands-on experience. It determines the days when you can see the expanded building. It will take shape before your eyes.

When completed next May, the newly named Baird Center facility will include 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, 24 new meeting rooms, 400 indoor parking spaces and a rooftop ballroom with an outdoor terrace. The total area will be 1.3 million square feet.

The expanded convention center will also feature quiet rooms, nursing rooms, separate male and female bathrooms, on-site food composting, and a solar-powered roof.

Gilbane Building Company and CD Smith and a number of subcontractors, including a number of local and minority-owned businesses, began construction on the project in late October 2021. Milwaukee-based GRAEF engineers designed the structural steel for the expansion.

The Wisconsin Center District (WCD), which operates the convention center, announced in March that it had entered into a 15-year naming rights agreement with Milwaukee-based financial services firm Baird, effective with the expansion opening in May 2024. .

WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks said, “We are at a point in the project where our vision is beginning to materialize and we couldn’t be more excited about where we are now. I will not,” he told the crowd that had gathered to watch the event. The patio of the Miller Highlife Theater across from the construction site. “This will allow us not only to recruit larger events, but also to host simultaneous and overlapping events. Increase. “

VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said the increased scale of the convention center “will enable a whole new group of conference planners to host meetings and events here in Milwaukee.” I am sexually excited,” he said.

“My team is thrilled to have already booked a large and prestigious convention at the expanded Baird Center. That included the 2024 Connect Marketplace, with 4,000 attendees, 1,000 of whom were conference planners, to explore all that Milwaukee and its expanded Baird Center has to offer. , practically a week of on-site visits are planned.”

Williams-Smith also noted that the expansion of the center will allow events to overlap and be held simultaneously, reducing the number of days an event cannot be held due to the movement of groups in and out of the facility.

But this “finishing” event was mostly one of many “thanks”. Brooks thanked Wisconsin Center District staff for continuing to host events within existing areas of the convention center, as well as other venues operated by WCD, such as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena and Miller High Life Theater. expressed. The Center District Committee voted in April 2020 to approve a major expansion.

“Approving a $456 million expansion in the midst of a global pandemic was a strategic risk. Thank you for trusting our team in building the convention center Milwaukee needed. ‘, said Brooks.

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