Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bucks, FPC Plan Downtown Concert Venue

Two buildings with 800 and 4,000 person capacities on former Bradley Center site.

By - May 23rd, 2022 10:16 am
FPC Live Deer District Concert Venues. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

FPC Live Deer District Concert Venues. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

The Deer District could soon have a dedicated concert venue.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Frank Productions, a subsidiary of national concert promoter Live Nation, jointly announced Monday a proposal to develop a two-venue concert complex on a portion of the former Bradley Center site.

The new complex would include two venues targeted at live music acts with 800 and 4,000 person capacities. It would target different shows than the Bucks’ adjacent Fiserv Forum arena, which has an approximately 17,500-person capacity.

The proposal replaces Frank Productions’ plans to develop an indoor concert complex in the Historic Third Ward adjacent to Henry Maier Festival Park. The new project’s estimated price is $50 million with its completion expected in 2023.

The new development would only occupy approximately one-third of the 7.2-acre Bradley Center site, bounded by Fiserv Forum, W. State St., N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and N. 6th St. Bucks President Peter Feigin said the team would consider seeking other developments for the remainder of the site.

“We want to be that destination where people come to work, where people come to live and, obviously, where people come to play,” said Feigin.

Meanwhile, a plan for a new concert venue seating 3,500 people was announced last week for a site just a half-mile away by a team led by Pabst Theater Group. But Frank Productions’ subsidiary FPC Live isn’t projecting any doubt about its plan.

“Our company has been public about our plans for these venues since last December and privately we’ve been working on it for several years,” said FPC co-president Charlie Goldstone. “So we’re very confident in our project and excited about, and secondly, moving forward.”

Mayor Cavalier Johnson endorsed the project. “The bottom line is this: I want more tourism in Milwaukee. I want more tourism dollars spent in Milwaukee. I want more employment in our hospitality industry right here in Milwaukee. I want more positive activity down here in the Deer District and throughout Milwaukee. And I want an even greater number of our entertainment options in Milwaukee as well,” said Johnson.

FPC said it was not asking for city financing assistance and that the development would be fully taxable. The Bucks and FPC are pursuing the development as a joint venture said Frank CEO Joel Plant.

“We will be opening a permanent office here in just the next few weeks,” said Plant. He noted the company is already booking concerts in the city, including at Fiserv Forum and the Summerfest grounds.

The development will be subject to the labor agreement between the Bucks and Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization. Representatives of both sides said the details on the agreement need to be worked out.

Goldstone, Plant and Feigin said the new venues would give the Deer District capacity to book shows of all sizes.

“Nearly every city in the Midwest and around the country are investing in new entertainment facilities. Milwaukee should be no different,” said Goldstone.

Feigin said the general admission venue setup would make it “different than anything that currently exists in the market.”

Plant said the amenities would help set the FPC venues apart. VIP seating would be included as well as elevated reserved seating.

The new venue is being designed by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

The team had previously announced it was considering developing a hotel on a part of the site. It issued a request for proposals in 2019 for land the team controls around the arena, before announcing the development of The Trade hotel in 2020. North Central Group (NCG) is developing the nine-story hotel as a 205-room Marriott Autograph Collection property on a site immediately north of the arena. NCG is leasing the land, 420 W. Juneau Ave., from the team’s real estate affiliate.

Live Nation, which acquired a majority of FPC-parent Frank Productions in 2018, is the country’s largest concert promoter. FPC owns or operates venues in Madison, Charleston, SC and Columbia, MO. Its Madison venues include The Sylvee, Orpheum Theater, Majestic Theatre and High Noon Saloon. Its plans for concert venues in Milwaukee would put it in competition with Pabst Theater Group and The Rave.

The final portion of the Bradley Center was demolished in May 2019. The Bucks were required to pay to demolish the formerly state-owned structure as part of the arena financing deal. The stadium, which was considered obsolete as NBA arenas added more amenities, opened in 1988.

The Bucks previously selected Royal Capital Group to develop Five Fifty Ultra Lofts apartment building along N. 6th St. on the west side of the arena parking garage. That building opened earlier this year and the hotel, a block to the east, will share the parking garage with the apartment building and arena. Through its real estate affiliate, the team also developed three entertainment-centric buildings on the east side of Fiserv Forum and attracted a number of tenants including Good City Brewing, Punch Bowl Social, Drink Wisconsinbly and a yet-to-open Fat Tuesday daiquiri bar.

Common Council approval will be necessary to advance the project. Council President Jose G. Perez was in attendance Monday morning and said he supports both the FPC and PTG venues moving forward.

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2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Bucks, FPC Plan Downtown Concert Venue”

  1. Polaris says:

    Exciting news! If Milwaukee got one of the two proposed new music venues it would be significant!

    That said, I sure wish Live Nation would decide if it has majority ownership in Frank Productions or not. Per WashPo’s article yesterday, “Live Nation subsidiaries got millions in aid meant for independent venues”

    “Several companies listed as Live Nation subsidiaries in February SEC filings received funds from the grant program, according to SBA data. They include Wisconsin company Frank Productions Concerts LLC, which received $10 million; artist management firm Gellman Management LLC, which received nearly $407,000; and Missouri firm Delmar Hall LLC, which received $1.75 million. Corporate documents filed in Wisconsin and California list Live Nation executives or subsidiaries having roles at Frank Productions Concerts and Gellman Management. Frank Productions Concerts, Gellman Management and Delmar Hall are all included on a list of hundreds of subsidiaries filed as part of Live Nation’s annual report covering 2021.

    A fourth company, The Pageant LLC, received $6.7 million from the program. It, along with Delmar Hall LLC, is 50 percent owned by Live Nation, said Patrick Hagin, who co-owns both businesses. He added that Delmar Hall was erroneously listed as a Live Nation subsidiary.

    Live Nation said in a statement that it does not have majority ownership or a controlling stake in any of the entities that received funds.

    ‘Therefore we don’t have the ability to tell these partners that they can’t get access to these funds….'”

  2. Polaris says:

    Question: Does the parking garage on the west side of the block stay or go?

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