Jeramey Jannene

Wisconsin Center Will Keep Living The High Life

Molson Coors renews WCD sponsorship for three years. Plus: District is giving away a gala.

By - Jan 23rd, 2023 11:03 am
Miller High Life Theatre. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Miller High Life Theatre. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’ll be Miller Time when the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) opens its $456 million convention center expansion.

The WCD will continue to serve Molson Coors beers and other beverages for the next three years as part of a renewed sponsorship agreement. The agreement comes as the district gets ready for the spring 2024 opening of the Wisconsin Center’s expansion. It also covers the Miller High Life Theatre, including maintaining the naming rights agreement, and the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

WCD, Molson Coors and distributor Beer Capitol jointly announced the agreement Friday.

“Molson Coors has had a longstanding relationship with the Wisconsin Center District since the opening of its convention center in 1998,” said Dan Idstein, general manager of sales at Molson Coors, in a press release. “Molson Coors and Wisconsin Center District share the same goal of elevating Milwaukee as a vibrant city. We are thrilled that Molson Coors and our more than 1,700 Milwaukee employees can continue to support our local community through this renewed partnership.”

The agreement covers a wide variety of events, including conventions, UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Admirals and Milwaukee Wave games at the arena and concerts at the theater.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Wisconsin Center District is committed to strengthening Milwaukee’s reputation and enhancing its cultural attractions through partnerships with like-minded companies like Molson Coors,” said Marty Brooks, WCD CEO. “We are proud to deepen this partnership to continue to support prosperity in the city of Milwaukee for years to come.”

During his CEO report at Friday’s WCD board meeting, Brooks said that the negotiations took approximately eight months and were “collegial and professional.”

The agreement applies to the Pabst Theater Group‘s (PTG) operational lease of the theater. In its first year, PTG is expected to have booked between 35 and 40 events at the venue. “It’s certainly better than what we would have expected had we still been booking and operating the theater,” said Brooks.

But despite the Molson Coors agreement, there is a major downtown venue that now serves Budweiser. Fiserv Forum, the other venue technically owned – but not operated – by the district, now serves Anheuser-Busch products.  The Milwaukee Bucks, who lease the facility, struck a deal last year with distributor Beechwood Sales & Service and ABInbev subsidiary Anheuser-Busch.

At least one major sponsorship component of the expanded convention center remains to be decided: the building’s name. WCD hired a consultant to land a new naming rights sponsor.

Gala Giveaway

The district is running a promotion of potentially great interest to Milwaukee charities.

WCD will freely host a gala event for up to 500 guests of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at the expanded convention center. The offering is intended to become an annual giveaway.

“Our local non-profit organizations are the backbone of our community. The work they do to help strengthen and grow southeastern Wisconsin is done with passion and authenticity, which is why it is deeply important to me to invest in these organizations in any way we can. By gifting one area 501(c)(3) organization a gala, we hope to set the winning organization up for future success and contribute to their cause in a unique way,” said Brooks in a Jan. 18 press release.

The giveaway includes rental of the new ballroom atop the expanded convention center, pre-function space for registration and a silent auction, a “chef’s choice” three-course menu and non-alcoholic beverages, four bottles of wine per table, the necessary tables, chairs and linens for 500 guests, a $15,000 audio-visual services credit, “complimentary service charge” and no WCD labor charges.

WCD staff members will also volunteer with the charity for 40 hours.

Applications are due March 31 via

UPDATE: An earlier version of this report said Molson Coors would have exclusive selling rights. It is an “exclusive sponsorship rights” agreement, which does not include exclusive selling rights.

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