Evers Budget Overlooks Convention Center
Wisconsin Center District plans downtown expansion by 2020, still hopes for state funding.
This week, Gov. Tony Evers announced $30 million in state money to expand the Alliant Energy Center in Madison as part of his capital budget, leaving many people in Milwaukee wondering if the Wisconsin Center will also finally be expanded.
Expansion of the downtown Milwaukee convention center has been discussed for years. Last summer, a consulting firm hired by the Wisconsin Center District presented three expansion concepts ranging in cost from $247 million to $277 million. But paying for the project has always been the sticking point.
The Wisconsin Center District expansion was not included in Evers’ capital budget.
“I don’t think the folks advocating for that have a proposal to bring forward, but the people have been talking to me about it,” Evers said. “That is a world-class part of the state and we need to make sure it continues to be, but a full proposal has not yet been provided.”
Marty Brooks, Wisconsin Center District CEO, said he still hopes to begin construction on the convention center expansion project in fall 2020.
“There are different options for funding and we need to assess where we are short,” Brooks said. “We don’t have that number yet, which is why we have not submitted an official ask to be in the governor’s budget. Whatever that number is, it will only be bridge funding from the state, or other options, to get us there. Believe me, no one is more anxious to get this resolved more than me.”
The Wisconsin Center District owns the convention center, the Fiserv Forum, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre.
The district is funded by three Milwaukee County taxes: a 2.5 percent tax on hotel rooms, a 3 percent tax on rental cars, and a 0.5 percent tax on food and beverage, plus an additional 7 percent tax on hotel rooms in the city of Milwaukee.
The only tax the district board has the authority to raise is the Milwaukee County room tax, to 3 percent, which would generate an additional $1 million per year. The Wisconsin Center District would need the authorization of the state Legislature and Evers for it to make any other tax increases.
Still, the Wisconsin Center District’s chances of expansion have improved under the Evers’ administration. Former Gov. Scott Walker repeatedly said he would not raise taxes. Joel Brennan, Evers’ Department of Administration secretary, has served on the Wisconsin Center District Board for years and is still a board member.
Expanding the convention center could also prompt the development of a vacant block in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. In 2016, two hotel firms presented elaborate plans to develop the site, but both proposals were dependent on the convention center being expanded.
In Madison, the $77 million Alliant Energy Center project will expand the facility by 196,000 square feet and is expected to create 644 new jobs.
Milwaukee’s convention center was built in 1998. It is 266,000 square feet, with about 189,000 square feet of exhibit space. By comparison, Cincinnati has 196,800 square feet of exhibit space at its convention center; Columbus has 373,000 square feet; Minneapolis has 475,000 square feet; and Indianapolis has two convention venues totaling 749,000 square feet of exhibit space.
Evers’ capital budget did allocate $100 million for a new state office building in Milwaukee that will replace the 56-year-old downtown Milwaukee building at 819 N. 6th Street. The location of the new building still has not been determined. The state Department of Administration has narrowed the site selection options to Milwaukee’s near west side and a nearly-vacant office building downtown.
The project is expected to be complete in August 2022.
Editor’s note: Laurel White contributed reporting to this story.
Milwaukee Convention Center Not Included In Evers’ Capital Budget But Supporters Still Eye Expansion was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio
More about the 2019-2021 Wisconsin Budget
- State Budget Fell Short on Highways? - Laurel White - Jul 8th, 2019
- Rep. LaKeshia Myers Supports Governor Evers’ Partial Vetoes - State Rep. LaKeshia Myers - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Statement: Wisconsin’s biennial budget will speed up transition to electric vehicles and improve public transit - WISPIRG Foundation - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Majority Leader Fitzgerald Reacts to Governor Evers Signing the Wisconsin Budget - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Evers Uses 78 Partial Vetoes on Budget - Laurel White - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Rep. Bowen Statement on Gov. Evers’ Signing of Biennial Budget - State Rep. David Bowen - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Promises Made, Promises Kept: Gov. Evers Signs Wisconsin’s 2019-21 Biennial Budget into Law - Gov. Tony Evers - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Budget Bill The Shortest in Decades - Shawn Johnson - Jun 30th, 2019
- Op Ed: Budget Should Plan For the Future - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Jun 29th, 2019
- Majority Leader Fitzgerald Statement on the Passage of the Wisconsin Budget - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Jun 26th, 2019
- Statement from Rep. Brostoff on Passage of Republican Budget - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Jun 26th, 2019
- Rep. Bowen Statement on Passage of Watered-Down Republican Budget - State Rep. David Bowen - Jun 26th, 2019
- Republican Budget is Replete with Countless Missed Opportunities - State Rep. LaKeshia Myers - Jun 25th, 2019
- Budget Committee Debates Stewardship Program - Danielle Kaeding - May 28th, 2019
- Republicans Refuse to Allow Votes on Budget Proposals to Help People Vote - One Wisconsin Now - May 14th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Responds to GOP Rejection of Medicaid Expansion - State Rep. Robyn Vining - May 9th, 2019
- Gov. Evers’ Statement on Joint Finance Committee Action - Gov. Tony Evers - May 9th, 2019
- Leader Fitzgerald Applauds Joint Finance Committee Eliminating Over $1 Billion in Gov. Evers’ Tax Hikes - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - May 9th, 2019
- Scores of People Attend State Budget Hearing - Bridgit Bowden - Apr 6th, 2019
- Legislators Resist Many Evers Proposals - Laurel White - Apr 5th, 2019
- Republicans Call for Reset of Evers’ Budget - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Apr 4th, 2019
- Evers Budgets $78 Million for High Speed Internet - Danielle Kaeding - Mar 14th, 2019
- Evers Wants $2.5 Billion Capital Budget - Shawn Johnson - Mar 11th, 2019
- The Medical College of Wisconsin Applauds Governor Evers Commitment to Cancer Research - Medical College of Wisconsin - Mar 8th, 2019
- Evers Budget Overlooks Convention Center - Corri Hess - Mar 8th, 2019
- School Leaders Back Evers Funding Plan - John Davis - Mar 7th, 2019
- WILL Budget Explainer: The Administrative State - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Mar 7th, 2019
- Governor Evers Makes Historic Investments in Health Care Coverage and Access - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Mar 6th, 2019
- Evers’ Budget Allows Immigrants In-State Tuition - Phoebe Petrovic - Mar 6th, 2019
- Murphy’s Law: Who Will Win State Budget Battle? - Bruce Murphy - Mar 5th, 2019
- The State of Politics: Governor’s Veto Power Looms Large - Steven Walters - Mar 4th, 2019
- Rural and Urban School Districts Express Support for Governor Evers’ Budget - Milwaukee Public Schools - Mar 1st, 2019
- Governor Evers Budget Prioritizes Real People Living Real Lives - Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health - Mar 1st, 2019
- Coalition for More Responsible Transportation Members Applaud Gov. Evers’ Proposed Transportation Budget - Coalition for More Responsible Transportation - Mar 1st, 2019
- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Responds to Governor Evers’ Budget Address - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Feb 28th, 2019
- Rep. Considine Statement on Governor’s Budget - State Rep. Dave Considine - Feb 28th, 2019
- Senator Craig Responds to Governor Evers’ Budget Address - State Sen. David Craig - Feb 28th, 2019
- Rep. Shankland Commends Governor Evers on The People’s Budget - State Rep. Katrina Shankland - Feb 28th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Cheers The People’s Budget - State Rep. Robyn Vining - Feb 28th, 2019
- Milwaukee Area Labor Council Reaction State Budget - Milwaukee Area Labor Council - Feb 28th, 2019
- Statement from Rep. Brostoff in Support of Gov. Evers’ Redistricting Plan - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Feb 28th, 2019
- The People’s Budget is a Win for Wisconsin - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 28th, 2019
- Rep. Mark Spreitzer Applauds Gov. Evers’s Budget Address - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 28th, 2019
- Gov. Tony Evers’ Budget Plan: Progress on Solutions for Student Loan Borrowers and Protections for Wisconsin Voter Rights - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 28th, 2019
- Governor Evers Gives 2019-21 Biennial Budget Address - Gov. Tony Evers - Feb 28th, 2019
- MacIver Responds To Reporters Being Barred From Evers Budget Briefing - MacIver Institute - Feb 28th, 2019
- AFP-WI: Evers Education Budget Doesn’t Prioritize Student Success - AFP Wisconsin - Feb 28th, 2019
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- Representative Subeck Applauds Governor Evers’ Plan to Ensure Fair Election Maps - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Feb 26th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Embraces Gov. Evers’ Inclusion of Redistricting in Budget - State Rep. Robyn Vining - Feb 26th, 2019
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More about the Wisconsin Center expansion
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Convention Center District Authorizes $420 Million Expansion, Raises Hotel Tax - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 2nd, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Wisconsin Center Faces 50% Revenue Cut - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 30th, 2020
- Plats and Parcels: City Could Get Cash From Convention Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 29th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Delays Convention Expansion? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 24th, 2020
- Plats and Parcels: Convention Center Expansion Paused - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 22nd, 2020
- Plats and Parcels: 11 Key Details About the Convention Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 8th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Renderings Released for Convention Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 6th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Wants $5 Million of Hotel Tax Per Year - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 3rd, 2020
- Plats and Parcels: UWM Gets Okay to Partially Demolish Columbia Hospital - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 1st, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Okays Convention Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 11th, 2020
- Plats and Parcels: Gilbane, CD Smith Will Build Wisconsin Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 12th, 2020
- Wisconsin Center District Announces Construction Manager for Wisconsin Center Expansion - Wisconsin Center District - Jan 10th, 2020
- Wisconsin Center District Announces Architectural Team for Wisconsin Center Expansion - Wisconsin Center District - Dec 19th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: River One Apartments Construction Starts in March - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 1st, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: New Apartments Near Streetcar Line - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 20th, 2019
- Convention Center Expansion Advances - Alana Watson - Aug 17th, 2019
- Wisconsin Center District Board Unanimously Passes Resolution Regarding Exposition Center Expansion - Wisconsin Center District - Aug 16th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: State Aids Convention Center Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 30th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: Convention Center Expansion Inches Forward - Graham Kilmer - May 20th, 2019
- Wisconsin Center District Updates Timeline for Completion of the Wisconsin Center - Wisconsin Center District - May 10th, 2019
- Evers Budget Overlooks Convention Center - Corri Hess - Mar 8th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: About That New Convention Center Plan - Graham Kilmer - Jun 17th, 2018
- Plenty of Horne: Downtown Power Brokers Mull Expanded Convention Center - Michael Horne - May 15th, 2014