The now former “U.S. Cellular Arena” which sits on the corner of Kilbourne Avenue and 4th Street in Milwaukee, underwent a name change. It was announced last week that the 12,000+ seat sports venue is now dubbed the UW – Milwaukee Panther Arena. The renaming is part of a 3.5 million dollar, 10-year agreement between the site’s owners and the local UW-Milwaukee University. The Wisconsin Center District, which also owns a number of other downtown institutions, said that the school will receive exclusive booking priority, signage, and even a new scoreboard as part of the deal. Seats at the UW – Milwaukee Panther Arena will be changed to black and gold, the university’s colors.
Most of UW – Milwaukee’s use of their new namesake will come from the men’s basketball team, which has called the location home in the past, but never regarded it as a permanent host. Between 2003 and 2012, the team alternated home games between the then-U.S. Cellular Arena and the on-campus Klotsche Center. Last season, Milwaukee played all of their home games at the downtown location.
The deal revealed on Thursday assures the Panthers a place to call home well into the future. The team will host every opponent to visit Milwaukee at the UW – Milwaukee Panther Arena through the 2024 season, at least, with the option to extend the contract to 2029. If the university takes advantage of the option, it will make the stadium the program’s longest continual home court since its inception in 1896.
Three other tenants maintained contracts with the Wisconsin Center District through the name change. The Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team will continue to play their home games at the venue during the 2014-15 season, and the Brew City Bruisers roller derby league will again host their events there. Just a year into their tenancy, the Green Bay Chill women’s football team will also continue to play of the UW – Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Thursday’s name change is the fifth revision of the title of the building, originally the city’s premier venue. Opened as the Milwaukee Arena in 1950, the Milwaukee Hawks were the first to play regular games at the stadium. By 2000, when U.S. Cellular bought naming rights, the building had been called the MECCA and the Wisconsin Center Arena, hosting at various times the Bucks, the Admirals, Marquette’s basketball teams, and a pair of arena football teams, the Milwaukee Bonecrushers and the Milwaukee Iron.