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In Milwaukee, Double the Space for Conventions and Exhibitions

Two months ahead of the Republican National Convention coming in July, Milwaukee’s Baird Center will open a 673,000-square-foot addition that brings the facility to more than 1.3 million square feet.

After three years of construction and a name change, the Baird Center in Milwaukee will debut a sizable expansion of its footprint in early May: a $450 million construction project that is bringing a 673,000-square-foot addition to the former Wisconsin Center.

The soon-to-be 1.3-million-square-foot facility will receive national exposure when the 50,000-attendee Republican National Convention comes to Milwaukee from July 15 to 18 with its estimated economic
impact of $200 million. Milwaukee also hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2020, though that event had to be scaled down significantly due to the Covid pandemic.

AM0324MilwaukeeCC3.pngThe expansion means the Baird Center will offer a total of 300,275 square feet of contiguous exhibit space that can be divided into 188,000-square-foot and 112,000-square-foot halls to allow two events to take place simultaneously. There will also be a new 32,000-square-foot rooftop ballroom with an executive kitchen plus a 18,223-square-foot wraparound rooftop terrace (see image); these will complement the existing 37,506-square-foot ballroom. And there will be 74,000 square feet of total breakout space across 16 rooms of approximately 5,000 square feet apiece, all of which can be divided to provide nearly 100 smaller room configurations in total.

From the standpoint of sustainability, the facility will now have a solar roof that generates about 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year; LED lighting throughout that is controlled by sensors to account for natural light and occupancy; ceramic-fritted glass on the building’s exterior that improves energy efficiency and prevents bird collisions; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and an Orca organic digester that can eliminate up to 438 tons of food waste annually. The Baird Center is seeking LEED Silver certification.

It is estimated the center’s expansion will bring an additional 100,000 out-of-state visitors each year. The Baird Center is 10 miles from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and 83 miles from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, with buses running between downtown Milwaukee and O’Hare more than a dozen times each day.

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