How Milwaukee’s new Arena Combats the In-Home Spectator Experience

February 27, 2018 / Brad Clark

Thirty percent of fans prefer to watch live sporting events at home, according to research completed by Nielsen Sports in 2017. While technology is building an increasingly powerful in-home broadcast, the live experience still remains king. However, it’s no longer about just grabbing a beer and staying planted in your seat.

Fans want to choose how they experience an event. And just as fans demand diverse experiences, our designs continue to evolve in order to redefine the in-venue fan experience, as will be seen when the Milwaukee Bucks’ new Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center opens this fall.

Populous’ dedicated focus to fan experience will be noticeable throughout the arena and is summarized best by the arena’s literal and figurative high point, the Panorama Club. Spanning from the seating bowl to a balcony above the east entrance and open to everyone, the Panorama Club sits at the highest point in the arena and offers a birds-eye view of the event floor on one side and a balcony with a view of the downtown Milwaukee skyline from the other. Its 300-person capacity and movable furnishings also make it one of the most versatile spaces in the arena, capable of hosting year-round luncheons, wedding receptions and more.

Other unique social spaces include the two experiential towers clubs which bookend the Panorama Club and each feature sponsored lounges and tiered seating. The arena’s most exclusive, premium space, the Event Level Club, has up-close views of players entering and exiting the court.

“We want to create the ripple effect throughout downtown and across the state,” said Peter Feigin, President of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The new arena will do just that. Beyond energizing visitors, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center’s design addresses community aspirations. A catalyst for downtown redevelopment, the new district includes a world-class training facility, the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center – also designed by Populous and local architect Eppstein Uhen – and a dynamic entertainment district.

The arena is not only driving a change in downtown Milwaukee’s landscape, but also in the broader arena market. A future home for concerts, eSports events, collegiate and professional basketball and more, the new arena is a model for adaptability and capability. The “back of house” was designed to ensure the arena could serve this full menu of event types, from weather-protected indoor loading docks, to a robust rigging capacity and even a kitchen for the roadies.

Altogether, the new Milwaukee Entertainment and Sports Center gives those 70 percent of fans who prefer to watch games live more motivation to leave home, and the other 30 percent a fear of missing out if they don’t.

For more on how Populous designs for the evolving fan, visit

Meet the author

Brad Clark

Senior Principal, Senior Architect / Kansas City


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