© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plans to develop new outdoor soccer stadium and indoor concert venue in Downtown Milwaukee

Rendering of the soccer stadium planned for downtown Milwaukee.
Courtesy of Iron District MKE
Rendering of the soccer stadium planned for downtown Milwaukee.

Even more entertainment options are coming to Milwaukee. Last week, two major developments were announced in the city, which could bring thousands of people to downtown. The Milwaukee Bucks announced a new concert venue next to Fiserv Forum, while just west of the Deer District another project was announced that could bring a new, professional soccer team to the city.

The project would help connect Marquette University with downtown Milwaukee by redeveloping 11 acres of land in the area northeast of the Marquette interchange where the abandoned Ramada Hotel currently stands.

SR Mills is the CEO of Bear Real Estate Group. He starts by explaining, "What we're proposing is a mixed-use facility, a sport and entertainment district that will energize the area 24/7, focusing on really anchoring it with a soccer stadium in conjunction with a hotel, theater, and housing."

Gary Witt, the CEO of the Pabst Theatre Group, adds that the Pabst Theater has developments all over town and this new entertainment district can serve as a connection point between those developments.

While the Deer District has much to offer, Witt acknowledges it primarily serves as a nighttime economy.

"It's a good opportunity to step forward and to deliver a more full working economy to the space and also at the same time to be able to, you know, provide development in an area that's certainly been blighted for quite some time. You could have filmed moon launches on this site for a long time there was so little activity there," says Witt.

Conor Caloia from Kacmarcik Enterprises points out that learning from other cities with developments like this is what is driving the push to bring a professional soccer team to Milwaukee.

He says there are about 60 professional soccer teams in the U.S. right now and it's a sport that's rapidly growing from a spectator standpoint.

Milwaukee's soccer team will be a lower division professional soccer team, it won't be a major league soccer team. Still, it will be the highest level of professional soccer in the state of Wisconsin, he says.

"If you look at the major markets in the U.S., Milwaukee is one of the largest cities and largest markets without professional soccer. So we think that pro soccer is long overdue in a city like Milwaukee that has such a rich soccer heritage. And we're excited to be the ones to bring a pro soccer team to Milwaukee in the near future," says Caloia.

Mills says work is set to begin within the next 60 to 90 days, starting with the demolition of the old Ramada.

"We're looking to proceed with the residential component immediately. And then very shortly thereafter, the soccer, theater, and hotel and with that all of the food and beverage options as well," says Mill.

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
Related Content