Team returns after one-year absence
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Center District have reached an agreement for the Panthers to play their men’s basketball games at the U.S. Cellular Arena.
The five-year contract begins this season and runs through the 2017-18 campaign. The tentative 2013-14 schedule has Milwaukee hosting DePaul Nov. 19 in its first regular season game back downtown. Facility availability for the full 2013-14 slate is still being finalized.
The new agreement returns the Panthers to the Cell after the team played its 2012-13 season at the on-campus Klotsche Center.
“It is exciting to be moving our men’s basketball games back to the U.S. Cellular Arena,” Milwaukee Director of Athletics Amanda Braun said. “We’ve had great discussions with officials from the Wisconsin Center District over the last few months about our partnership, and we’ve constructed an agreement that is extremely positive for everyone. We are seeking the best opportunities for all of our programs to be successful, and the Cell makes sense as the home for our men’s basketball program.”
“This is the right thing for our program,” Milwaukee men’s basketball coach Rob Jeter said. “We’ve always felt comfortable at the Cell and we feel very good about calling that our home. Our fans enjoy watching games there and our players enjoy playing there. We have created a lot of great memories at the Cell and we look forward to creating even more in the future.”
The Wisconsin Center District is also excited to restart the partnership.
“Downtown Milwaukee serves as a hub for Panthers’ fans and we are excited to be partnering once again with UWM and the Panthers’ basketball team,” Wisconsin Center District Board Chairman Franklyn Gimbel said. “The location, as well as the intimate atmosphere, positions the U.S. Cellular Arena as a first-class college basketball venue.”
“We look forward to welcoming the team back to downtown and joining with students and fans to cheer the Panthers on to victory,” Wisconsin Center District President and CEO Richard Geyer said.
In returning downtown, the Panthers will again be positioned to raise their profile in the Milwaukee community while providing an exciting entertainment option for UWM students.
“Playing downtown allows us to increase our outreach in the community while still engaging our student population,” Braun said. “The Wisconsin Center District was very much on-board with considering ways to assist us in making our games more accessible to all. Lower ticket fees and increased promotional opportunities will have a tangible positive impact for us.”
UWM students will continue to get free admission to games, and the free transportation from campus to the Cell on gamedays will also return.
“We all agree student involvement and engagement is a big part of college basketball,” Braun said. “The WCD is going to do their part by assisting us in some areas. Internally, we’re forming student focus groups and reaching out to other groups to make sure we do everything we can to make going to games downtown a must-do for students.”
Jeter says playing downtown clearly provides the best opportunity to engage all groups of fans.
“Restoring our presence downtown will reopen a number of opportunities for us to reconnect with our fans from all around the Milwaukee area,” Jeter said. “The setup downtown is perfect for special events and for the postgame gatherings I know are very popular with our supporters. Plus, we’ll continue the outreach to our students, who have always told me they enjoyed the games downtown and are ready and willing to support our program.”
“A presence downtown is important for men’s basketball, for athletics and for the University as a whole,” Braun added. “We can expose ourselves to new or potential fans and the University can expose itself to new students, potential donors and the community at-large.”
The Panther men played this past season at the Klotsche Center after a previous agreement with the Wisconsin Center District expired. The move back was designed to gauge fan reaction and interest in having men’s basketball play its home games on campus, as well as determine some of the impacts the games would have on the facility and other programs. The move did include some upgrades which will continue to benefit the volleyball and women’s basketball programs.
“We’re responsible for providing quality opportunities for success for all of our programs and student-athletes,” Braun said. “The improvements made at Klotsche, including the addition of video boards and new scoreboards, will clearly benefit our women’s basketball and volleyball programs as they continue to call the building home.”
For more information on tickets for the 2013-14 season, call the Panther Ticket Office at 414-229-5886. Full ticket pricing and package information will be available shortly, while the complete 2013-14 schedule will likely be released in August or September.
Milwaukee Basketball History At The U.S. Cellular Arena
After playing a handful of games downtown as early as the 1970′s, Milwaukee moved some of its schedule to the arena for the 1990-91 season, when the Panthers returned to Division I play. By 1992-93, Milwaukee was playing most of its games downtown, winning all 12 at the arena that year, including a thrilling win over Green Bay in front of more than 8,000 fans.
UWM continued to play its games at the arena through the 1997-98 campaign before moving back to the on-campus Klotsche Center for the next five years. The Panthers then returned downtown for the 2003 Horizon League Tournament and played nine games downtown in the 2003-04 campaign. Milwaukee then continued to play its home games at the arena through the 2011-12 season before moving back to campus last year.
In all, since returning to the Division I ranks in 1990, the Panthers have played 208 regular season and postseason home games at the Cell. Upon returning downtown for the 2002-03 league tournament, Milwaukee, the Panthers embarked on a tremendous run of success that included three Horizon League regular season crowns, three NCAA Tournament appearances and a 94-36 mark on the U.S. Cellular Arena floor.
The historic building has also been home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and to Marquette University.
About The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
As Wisconsin’s premier public urban institution, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee enjoys a growing national reputation for excellence in research, teaching and community engagement. On an operating budget of $680 million, it educates approximately 30,000 students and is a engine of innovation for Southeastern Wisconsin. The 104-acre main campus and satellite sites are located in the economic and cultural heart of the state. The university’s recent expansion includes new academic and research facilities, and the creation of the only School of Freshwater Sciences in the United States and the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health.
About the U.S. Cellular Arena
Established in 1950, the U.S Cellular Arena, originally known as the Milwaukee Arena and then MECCA, is one of Wisconsin’s premier indoor arenas. Seating as many as 12,700 people, the arena is home to the Milwaukee Panthers, Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team, the Brewcity Bruisers roller derby league, Disney on Ice, The Tripoli Shrine Circus and hosts many other sports, entertainment and events. The U.S. Cellular Arena is located at the corner of 4th Street and Kilbourn Avenue (400 W. Kilbourn Avenue) in downtown Milwaukee. For event listings and more information, visit uscellulararena.org.
About the Wisconsin Center District
The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) owns and operates Wisconsin’s premier convention and entertainment complex located in downtown Milwaukee, including the Delta Center, U.S. Cellular Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre. Established in 1994 as a government body to fund, build and operate these properties, WCD is a governed by an unpaid, 15-member board of directors, with the mission of maintaining, building, and promoting the facilities and Milwaukee as first-in-class destinations for conventions, sporting and entertainment events. WCD’s operations are funded by operating revenues. For event listings and information, visit wcd.org.