Where the Bucks roam
A few hours before the Milwaukee Bucks’ inaugural game at the sparkling new $524 million Fiserv Forum on Oct. 3, Bucks president Peter Feigin was like a proud parent as he bounded through the building showcasing the NBA’s latest venue.
Feigin was quick to tout the 17,341-seat facility’s wide concourses, plush club areas, and posh suites, but he could barely contain his excitement over a piece of arena technology that is perfectly suited for beer-loving Milwaukeeans: The “BeerJet,” a newfangled pouring machine that can dispense six beers in seven seconds, or up to 1,500 beers an hour.
Feigin claims that the $40,000 machine is the first to be fully operational in the NBA, but far greater than the supersonic pouring speed of the BeerJet is what it represents to the team’s fan experience efforts within the new arena.
“Every detail matters, every finish,” Feigin said. “It’s all about connective tissue.”
The arena’s connectivity effort starts outside the facility with a city-block-long plaza fronting the arena’s massive glass façade main entrance, which leads into an airy six-story atrium.
As workers hustled to complete last-minute fixes to fountains and wooden benches outside the arena before the preseason opener against the Bulls, curious fans posed for selfies in front of a Bucks sculpture placed within the plaza.
Fiserv Forum slide show
The plaza takes a page out of the Chicago Cubs’ popular Gallagher Way adjacent to Wrigley Field and serves as a buffer between the arena and soon-to-open bars and restaurants that are part of a 30-acre Bucks-run entertainment district. Ground was broken this past summer for a 100-unit apartment complex that also will be part of the team’s development.
“We are making it very interactive and look at the district for people to work, live and play,” said Bucks co-owner Michael Fascitelli, who leads the team’s real estate development efforts.
The arena stands as the anchor to the project with its distinct arched roof and zinc-tiled exterior serving as its signature design element. “We felt it needed a signature and [the roof] captures the natural feature of the region,” said Brad Clark, senior principal of Kansas City-based Populous, which along with Wisconsin-based Eppstein Uhen Architects designed the arena. “It is the marriage of an urban environment and natural environment that led to the wavelike shape of the roof.”
It’s an arena full of light, with the glass main entrance façade fronting the giant atrium and wide, airy concourses. “We set out to create a building that was super open and abiding,” Clark said.
By the numbers
Cost: $524 million
Seating capacity: 17,341
Club seats: 848
The arena’s interior design puts an emphasis on a social viewing fan experience and a sense of community.
Prevalent are open, direct views onto the event floor from both the upper and lower concourses. Drink rails and communal harvest tables line the wide concourses to encourage fans to eat and drink together. Four branded bars anchor each corner of the concourse and each looks into the arena bowl.
Opposite the outdated and darkly designed Bradley Center that still stands next door (but is soon slated for demolition), Fiserv Forum has a lower seating bowl of 10,000 with 7,000 seats in the upper bowl to provide a more intimate viewing experience.
Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University basketball
Wisconsin Center District
Populous, Eppstein Uhen Architects, HNTB
HNTB, Walter P. Moore
Deer District LLC, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks
Team store operator
BMO Harris Bank, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Johnson Controls, Miller Brewing Co.
BMO Entrance, Johnson Controls Entrance
Other branded spaces
BMO Club, West Bend Lofts, Kohl’s Court, Coors Light Silver Bullet Suite, Jack Daniel’s Bar, Leinenkugel’s, Miller Brewing, Coors Light Silver Bullet Bar
There are the typical revenue-generating, high-end clubs; the BMO Club, with its private entrance built on the floor level and views of locker room walkways, is the swankiest. The 567-member, all-inclusive club costs $12,000 to $70,000 per season including courtside seats and is sold out.
Unlike some other NBA arenas, Fiserv Forum does not have courtside bunker suites. Arena designers felt that bunker suites and their typical seven-figure pricing in other NBA buildings didn’t fit the small Milwaukee market.
The suite level features only 34 suites ranging from $225,000 to $450,000. All are sold out and each is well appointed with Kohler fixtures and reclaimed wood finishes. The suite level also was designed with flexibility in mind. The suites on the stage side of the building have movable walls that can combine suites to accommodate groups of different sizes. The suite concourses can also be used for private functions on non-game days.
The arena features 33 branded, all-inclusive West Bend Lofts that accommodate four, six or eight people and range in cost from $80,000 to $200,000 per season. It’s a loge-like premium product that Feigin said sold so well that more could be added. The Mezzanine Club sits above the BMO Club and has a capacity for 866 club seat members with season tickets. Club access is priced between $9,500 and $12,500. Though food and drink are not included, club holders get a $10 credit for each game.
One of the more unique fan amenities is in
the building’s nosebleed territory, historically the least-attractive area in any arena. The 10,000-square-foot Panorama Club sits at the top level of the east side of the arena and offers direct views six floors down to the playing court and into the adjacent atrium. The east end of the club opens to a large outdoor balcony that overlooks the city and the plaza below. It plays into the arena’s open design with its birds-eye view into the building and sight lines across the city.
The Panorama Club is free and open to all fans during games. Feigin expects the space to become one of the most popular areas of the arena. “We’ve taken the least-valuable real estate in the rafters and made it most desirable,” he said.
The club can also be used on non-game days and for concerts and other events, and represents the team’s efforts to create a fan experience focused on building a community.
“The idea was to create something that was a high value space on a daily basis,” Clark said. “Over the past 10 years, it’s been about premium patrons and revenue generation. We like the idea of creating a great place for everyone. It was all about creating a social place.”