Jeramey Jannene

Pabst Theater Group Adds Fifth Venue

PTG becomes exclusive booker and operator of Wisconsin Center's Miller High Life Theatre.

By - Mar 28th, 2022 01:02 pm
Miller High Life Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Center District.

Miller High Life Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Center District.

A unique partnership has the Pabst Theater Group (PTG) taking over booking and operations of the 4,087-seat Miller High Life Theatre for at least five years.

The for-profit PTG is adding the venue, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., to its current roster of four venues: the Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater, Turner Hall Ballroom and Back Room @ Colectivo.

The Miller High Life Theatre, long known as the Milwaukee Theatre, is owned by the Wisconsin Center District (WCD).

“The purpose of this agreement is to align with an entity that delivers best-in-class guest experiences and promoter partnerships; showcases a dedication to the city of Milwaukee; and increases the activity of the Miller High Life Theatre without compromising the Wisconsin Center District’s ability to maximize the space for our core meetings and conventions business,” said WCD president and CEO Marty Brooks in a statement announcing the agreement.

The Wisconsin Center District also owns the attached UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Wisconsin Center, which is undergoing a $420 million expansion. It will still be able to use the theater for conventions and meetings and will retain the naming rights agreement. All existing bookings will be maintained.

PTG, led by Gary Witt, is immediately assuming exclusive booking rights for ticketed events at the theater and will assume operational control by July 31.

“Part of our mission as an almost 20-year old Milwaukee company is to make sure that the city around us thrives. And with that, the common goal in our agreement with our friends at the Wisconsin Center District is as we have done in the past with each of the venues that are now a part of the Pabst Theater Group, to reawaken and help to give a soul and identity to another historic and beautiful venue, the Miller High Life Theatre,” said Witt.

The agreement comes as Live Nation, via subsidiary FPC Live, works to enter the Milwaukee market with two venues of its own in the Historic Third Ward. The national conglomerate, which includes Ticketmaster and more than 200 venues, would be able to steer tours to its own venues, potentially negatively impacting PTG and The Rave.

One of the two new FPC venues would have a capacity of 4,000 people, similar to the High Life Theatre, but in a standing configuration more akin to the 987-person Turner Hall.

The Miller High Life Theatre has two tiers of seats and can be configured for 2,562- or 1,291-seat shows. Two side halls are capable of hosting 700-person shows.

Built as the Milwaukee Auditorium in 1909, it was renamed the Milwaukee Theatre following an extensive 2003 renovation. The Miller High Life name came as a result of a 2017 sponsorship agreement.

The venue holds the distinction as the place where former president Theodore Roosevelt gave a 90-minute campaign speech just after being shot in the chest a few blocks away. More recently, it’s been used by then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and a wide variety of entertainment acts.

WCD Theater Pitch Video

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us