As Fiserv Forum opens, attention shifts to Milwaukee arena district’s remaining space

MILWAUKEE -- Fiserv Forum's grand opening is Tuesday, Sept. 4, when rock band The Killers take the stage. For the Milwaukee Bucks' owners and city officials, the attention shifts to the rest of the arena district.

Construction on the arena wrapped up in late August, ending with a ribbon cutting and open house Aug. 26. But the construction era is still in full swing outside.

Wes Edens

"This is the cornerstone of (the arena district). We hope there's lots more to come," said Wes Edens, one of the Bucks' principal owners.

Fiserv Forum anchors a 30-acre district that spans several city blocks and includes completed buildings, construction sites, and empty lots.

The Bucks' practice facility, Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin's Sports Science Center and the arena's new parking garage are open on the blocks north and northwest of Fiserv Forum.

The Five Fifty Ultra Apartments are under construction adjacent to the parking garage. The Bucks are also building an entertainment block that will be separated from the new arena by a plaza.

Plans have not yet been announced for the Bradley Center land that sits directly south of Fiserv Forum. Team owners said demolition of the structure would start "immediately" but have not announced a timeline.

Edens said this week that the Bucks will keep the Bradley Center's parking garage open at North Sixth Street and West Highland Avenue to alleviate parking issues.

"We think we're going to be in good shape," said Edens.

When Milwaukee County sold 10 acres of land to the team in 2015 for $1, the deal included two blocks that have served as a staging area for arena construction. Now that construction is ending, the land northeast of Fiserv Forum does not have a clear future.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

The Bucks said they want to attract a corporate headquarters to the area. Asked whether arena sponsor Fiserv would move from its current Brookfield campus, neither Edens nor Mayor Tom Barrett said anything was imminent.

"We welcome them. We welcome having them stay in Brookfield as well. We want them to stay in the region," Barrett said.

"Well, they're a huge company and we'd love to have them consider Milwaukee and downtown, but they're not the only one, obviously," said Edens.

At the Aug. 26 event, Fiserv chief executive Jeff Yabuki declined comment about topics not related to the ribbon cutting.

The northernmost four blocks of the arena district, the ones Milwaukee County sold to the Bucks, used to be part of the Park East Freeway before it was demolished in the early 2000s.

Barrett said he's confident the entire arena district will ultimately be developed.

"I think it's going to mushroom. I think it's going to be even more because ... are now seeing what a vibrant part of the community this is," said Barrett.

The city required the Bucks to hire Milwaukee residents for 40 percent of the arena's construction work. Barrett said the city would use that requirement, known as the resident preference program, on future projects that taxpayers help fund.

He didn't name any specific projects where it would be used.