U.S. Cellular Arena is no more: UW-Milwaukee takes over naming rights for downtown arena

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the Wisconsin Center District (WCD), which owns and operates the Milwaukee Arena, announced that the downtown arena is being renamed the “UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.”

The renaming of the arena is part of a broad 10-year partnership agreement between UW-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Center District that includes the naming rights to the facility and a long-term downtown home for the UWM Panthers Men’s Basketball team.

A key provision of the new partnership agreement is a plan for UWM to begin hosting major concerts and other programming in the arena, including nationally known speakers.

Interim Chancellor Mark Mone says the agreement helps underscore UWM’s role as the region’s leading university with nearly 28,000 students and 5,000 employees.

“Having UWM’s name on the downtown arena is an important symbol of our deep commitment to the City of Milwaukee and the entire region,” said Mone. “It fits well with our strategic plan to enhance the university’s brand and to further position UWM as Milwaukee’s University.”

According to Mone, the partnership agreement will also raise UWM’s visibility among prospective students and their families.

“Having the UWM name on a major public arena in the heart of the region’s cultural and social scene will strengthen our marketing efforts with the huge number of people who live in or visit Milwaukee each year,” explained Mone.

Mone emphasized that no tax dollars will be used for the marketing and sponsorship initiative.  The program will be financed with money from the UWM Foundation and funds generated by non-academic programming at the university.

UWM’s Athletic Director, Amanda Braun, said the naming agreement will be a tremendous asset to the university’s Athletic Department.

“We are thrilled to have our Men’s Basketball team play in a building that carries the UWM Panthers name. It will give our ticket sales and marketing efforts a big boost, especially with alumni, and it will also be a great tool in our recruitment of student athletes.”

“With this agreement, the university that educates the most Wisconsin residents establishes one more meaningful regional partnership,” said University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents President Michael J. Falbo. “This is another creative way for our system’s largest urban university to demonstrate it is an integral part of this community.”

About a year ago, UWM and WCD announced that the Arena would once again be home for the UWM men’s basketball program. At that time, the agreement marked the return of the Panthers to the arena, after the program was moved to UWM’s Klotsche Center for the 2012-13 season.

“We are pleased that UWM has agreed to further partner with us in this long-term agreement,” said Franklyn M. Gimbel, Chairman of the Wisconsin Center District. “This partnership will benefit both of our organizations and the downtown Milwaukee community as a whole.”

“My staff and the team at UWM have laid a great foundation for our partnership moving forward,” said Russell Staerkel, Interim President and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District. “We are committed to continuing to provide the quality service that our patrons have come to expect.”

Signage and communications to reflect the name change to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena are in process and will be transitioning throughout the remainder of 2014. The new permanent exterior and interior signage is in the process of being performed by UWM, which expects the permanent signage to be completed later this year.

The Wisconsin Center District was notified by U.S. Cellular that the company would not be renewing its agreement for the naming rights to the Arena. That agreement expired on May 31 of this year.