Moving Forward Together: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
July 10, 2014
UWM further established its presence in Milwaukee on June 26 when university leaders agreed to a long-term marketing agreement with the Wisconsin Center District that includes renaming the downtown Arena the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. We’ve received excellent coverage of the partnership in media outlets and a positive response from the community and our alumni, and I’d like to provide you with more details of the agreement and the thinking behind it.
The most visible benefit is the placement of the university’s name and logo – the UWM brand – in the heart of downtown Milwaukee on the building that already is home for UWM commencement ceremonies and men’s basketball games. Millions of state residents and visitors to the city will see “UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena” on one of the most iconic buildings in the city’s entertainment and convention district. This further expands a downtown presence already established by the School of Continuing Education in the Grand Avenue Mall and the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health in the former Pabst Brewery complex.
The cost of the sponsorship agreement is projected to be $3.4 million over 10 years. Our initial plan is to make annual payments to the Wisconsin Center District of $300,000 (in each of first three years), $350,000 (middle four years) and $375,000 (final three years). As noted in the media, we have the ability to get out at any time if the view of the building is impeded and after five years for any reason if the university determines it is in the best interest of UWM to end the arrangement.
No new campus funds or tax dollars will be needed to pay for the sponsorship agreement with the Wisconsin Center District. Here are the sources of the payments:
- Athletics Department – reduction in previously planned rental payments;
- University Relations and Communications Division – reapportioned from other budgeted marketing and advertising expenditures;
- Student Affairs Division – budgeted special events funding;
- Secretary of the University Office – reduction in rental payments for commencement ceremonies already planned to be at the Arena;
- UWM Foundation – contribution; and
- Advertising revenue – UWM to be compensated for internal signage sold to other organizations.
As part of the agreement, UWM will pay less to rent the Arena for each of its home men’s basketball games played at the Arena and less to rent the Arena for the May and December Commencement ceremonies. Large events like these require an off-campus facility because the largest university-run facility, the Klotsche Center, has a capacity of 3,400. More than 10,000 individuals routinely attend commencement ceremonies. This agreement locks in our long-term access to these needed off-campus facilities at a predictable price.
Also as part of the agreement, UWM may host three rent-free events per year at the Arena. We envision using the arena for major concerts and nationally known speakers that currently cannot be accommodated on campus.
I’m grateful to UWM’s executive leadership team for their assistance and unanimous support for this agreement. Because other organizations were considering acquiring the Arena naming rights, we conducted contract negotiations in a highly confidential manner. We felt this was the best way to maintain our bargaining power during negotiations.
Moving Forward Together
“Moving Forward Together” is the phrase I’m using to describe our approach to university initiatives during the interim year. For a detailed look at Moving Forward Together, please read my July 1 update.