“The first time we’ve ever done this in 30 years:” Bradley Center hosts rare, free open house

BMO Harris Bradley Center

MILWAUKEE -- Over the past 25 years, the BMO Harris Bradley Center has served as a sports and entertainment hub for Milwaukee. Ahead of its final season, it's celebrating that history with a first-of-its kind open house.

The view from the catwalk at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, high above the court,  is a sight very few have seen.

“We’ve never allowed the public to go up before," says Paul Jansen, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development for the Center.

Steve Costello

But it’s one of the highlights of a rare opportunity this weekend. On Saturday, the arena will host a free open house, flinging open all the doors before its 30th and final season.

“Where the stars eat and hang out, all of our historical memorabilia," says Steve Costello, President and CEO of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, describing the behind-the-scenes tour."

The dressing rooms are chock full of items from the biggest names in show biz; fans can shoot hoops and take photos on both the Bucks and Marquette basketball courts; and a limited number of guests will get to soak it all in from 90-feet up in the catwalk.

BMO Harris Bradley Center

"This is really the first time we’ve ever done this in 30 years," Jansen says. "We have participated in Doors Open Milwaukee in the past. But this is really kind of Doors Open Milwaukee on steroids."

First opened in 1988, the Bradley Center was made possible thanks to a gift from Jane Bradley Pettit that helped keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.

"She wanted to make this gift to the community," Costello explains. "To ensure the future of NBA basketball, but also to have a place for our community to come together and experience the best of world-class sports and entertainment."

Over the decades, celebrities responded to that community. There's a reason Eric Clapton, for example, made so many appearances in Milwaukee.

BMO Harris Bradley Center

BMO Harris Bradley Center

Paul Jansen

"He told us when he was here," Jansen remembers. " ‘You can send me anywhere you want on my tour, but I do want to play in Milwaukee. Because I know I’ll be treated better than anywhere else in North America and my crew will be treated better than anywhere else in North America.’ "

The Bradley Center has hosted well over 400 concerts, 1,500 family shows and special events and more than 4,000 team and sporting events. And there is plenty more in store for the last season.

“We’ve got more happening here than we’ve had in recent years," says Costello. "Some amazing family shows, some great music coming up – Guns n’ Roses and Janet Jackson and Katy Perry.”

BMO Harris Bradley Center

BMO Harris Bradley Center

A grand finale for what has been Milwaukee’s center for sports and entertainment.

The free community open house at the BMO Harris Bradley Center runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 7th.

As for all the memorabilia, officials are still planning and discussing what to do with it all.