Study estimates Wisconsin Center District generates nearly $500 million in economic impact in Milwaukee

A recent economic impact analysis of the Wisconsin Center District (WCD), which was presented recently at its board of directors meeting, reveals that the estimated gross economic impact of the WCD facilities is $497.8 million.  In addition, the study demonstrates that the WCD generates a total of $355 million and $126 million in new annual spending for the city of Milwaukee.  It was also found that the spending associated with the WCD facilities supports more than 4,000 full-time jobs in Milwaukee, and 1,434 annual full-time jobs are supported by new spending in the city.

“Our facilities offer forums where many different business, cultural and entertainment activities take place in downtown Milwaukee,” said Franklyn Gimbel, Wisconsin Center District Board Chairman. “This study demonstrates the extent to which the Wisconsin Center District fosters the cultural, economic and social lives of the citizens of Milwaukee.”

The study was conducted by Chicago-based HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting (HVS), which has performed hundreds of assignments around the world analyzing the feasibility of convention and conference centers, headquarters hotels, arenas, stadiums, event and civic centers, performing arts facilities, hospitality developments, tourism attractions, water parks, entertainment/urban development districts and museums.  The study was conducted to estimate the spending impacts of the WCD facilities – the Delta Center, the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre – on the city of Milwaukee.

HVS also compared the results of the Bradley Center Economic Impact study prepared by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) with the HVS study of the WCD economic impacts, adjusting for the differences in the way that the reports were generated, and found that the WCD generates more than twice as much economic impact.  In comparison with the Bradley Center’s $204.5 million, the estimated gross impact of the WCD facilities is nearly two and a half times that amount at $497.8 million.

“Based on this comparison, it appears that WCD facilities have more than twice the economic impact as the Bradley Center facilities,” said Thomas Hazinski, Managing Director at HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting.  “These estimates should be considered rough approximations of the differences between the impact of the Bradley Center and WCD facilities.”

“The study properly portrays the impacts for the Bradley Center per the MMAC estimates,” said Bret Mayborne, MMAC Economic Research Director.  “The biggest takeaway for me is that both sets of estimates highlight the significant impacts that these facilities have on the Milwaukee area, truly a win-win.”

The spending associated with the WCD facilities made by attendees, day trip visitors, event organizers, and exhibitors who come from outside the market inject new income into the state and local economies. In addition, tax revenues generated from this new spending flow to state and local governments and generate net new fiscal impacts. The study found that in the past five years, on average:

  • Approximately 98,000 people stayed overnight, bringing in new spending on lodging, restaurant, retail, transportation, and entertainment.
  • An average of 408,000 people came to Milwaukee from out of town to visit the convention center, arena and entertainment district for the day.
  • Event organizers spent money on lodging, food and beverage, facility rental and services, transportation and other items.
  • Exhibitors spent money on lodging, food and beverage, transportation, booth set-up, equipment rental, and services.

For the 2011 fiscal year, WCD facilities generated gross supported tax revenues of more than $6.5 million (including city and county revenues).
In order to estimate visitor spending, HVS utilized sources such as the Destination Market Association International convention center spending survey of delegates, exhibitors and event organizers; hotel spending based on historical data on group average daily room rates in comparable hotels; and the Corporate Travel Index, which compares the cost of business travel in the top 100 markets.

“This economic impact analysis demonstrates that the WCD generates significant and ongoing economic impact in the City of Milwaukee,” said Thomas Hazinski, Managing Director at HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting.  “These economic impact estimates are subject to numerous assumptions and limiting conditions described throughout the report. The readers should consider these estimates as a mid-point in a range of potential outcomes.”

2012 Economic Impact Analysis