Milwaukee’s Baird Center Opens After $456 Million Expansion

Exterior of Baird Center in Milwaukee.

Skift Take

The Baird Center’s renovation and expansion is complete and will be an integral part of the Republican National Convention July 15-18.

The Baird Center’s $456 million renovation and expansion is complete. The newly expanded center, located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, is expected to stimulate at least $12.6 billion in total spending in Wisconsin over 30 years. Expanding the convention center allows the Wisconsin Center District to book simultaneous or overlapping events.

With 1.3 million total square feet, Baird Center can now accommodate larger events. The expansion, which broke ground in October 2021, doubled its size. The expansion weaves in the former Wisconsin Center, and Baird now includes the North and South Buildings. 

Twenty-four new meeting rooms have been added, bringing the total to 52. The project includes a new 112,000-square-foot exhibition space, bringing the total convention space to 300,000 square feet. 

Sustainability is a focus of the project. There is a new solar roof, stormwater management system, bird-friendly glass, and an on-site food digester. In addition, the center will include on-site sensory rooms, nursing mother’s rooms, and all-gender restrooms. Other highlights include the rooftop Baird Sky View Terrace, Baird Ballroom, and an extensive art collection.

Milwaukee Hosts Republican National Convention

Milwaukee is hosting the Republican National Convention in July. At the convention, the Republican Party will formally announce its presidential nominee, presumably former President Donald Trump.

Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, chatted with Skift Meetings about how this convention will showcase how the city can host large-scale events. You can hear that interview here.

Trump has said he will announce his running mate during this convention, giving it added importance. 

Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, is the convention’s main venue. Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Baird Center are also being used as spaces. 

“It’s the first group that’s taking every square foot of the building,” says Marty Brooks, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District about Baird.  Milwaukee estimates 50,000 will visit the city for the convention. 

In addition, to capitalize on this attention, Visit Milwaukee has a new corporate brand.