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Cities, Sport Arenas, and Redevelopment

The Case of Milwaukee and the
Arena District Redevelopment Plan

Written by Dr. Anthony Pennington-Cross
Chair, Department of Finance; Professor of Finance and Center for Real Estate
Marquette University, College of Business Administration
Straz Hall, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
May 14, 2015


Cities, Sport Arenas, and Redevelopment:
The Case of Milwaukee and the Arena District Redevelopment Plan

The history of cities in the U.S. is a story of transformation, as cities attempt to keep up with
technological advancements and the changing needs and interests of U.S. populations. People
used to live in cities because they had to. Today, people tend to live in cities because they want
to. As a result, cities need to seek ways to attract people to move back. Many cities have turned
to redevelopment plans centered around sports arenas.
Milwaukee has been presented with the opportunity to redevelop a long-unused tract of land near
its downtown area. Much of the land was part of the freeway but is now simply empty and
unsightly space. A new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks would be the centerpiece of a large scale
redevelopment plan in this tract. The plan proposed by the Bucks would create what might be
called the “Arena District,” which would include approximately 700 apartment units, 255
thousand square feet of office space, 280 thousand square feet of retail, open space, and 2,900
parking spots. The question this paper explores is whether such a redevelopment project would
create a positive amenity that makes Milwaukee a more attractive destination city. Understanding
the changing role of cities is essential to that exploration.
Many of the original cities in the U.S., including Milwaukee, formed around trade routes (the
transportation network). They were convenient places to collect commodities such as lumber, fur
pelts, and crops to be distributed to other cities in the U.S. and across the globe. Eventually,
many cities became hubs for factories and manufacturing industries. In order to obtain a
nonagricultural job or a higher paying management job, a worker had to live in the city; it was
too expensive to commute from any distance.
With the widespread introduction of automobiles and trucks in the 20th century, households and
firms were no longer as strongly tethered to downtown and began to spread out, reducing cities'
population density and economic activity. The pull of cities has been reduced even further in
recent decades by the development of high quality communication and computing technology,
which made it possible for workers to complete many tasks without an office. At the same time,
the goods and services a city is likely to offer changed from physical commodities to more
information- and innovation-based services (finance, consulting or technology, for instance).
Some cities have suffered mightily from these shifts. But many larger cities and some of the
more quirky mid-sized cities have thrived instead of falling apart. As described in more detail
below, these cities attracted high-skill workers, who needed and wanted to share physical space
to enhance their productivity. Moreover, younger and highly skilled workers agglomerated in
certain cities because these locales had become the place to be and to be seen. Firms have
followed these workers back to cities, despite the high cost of land and property.
The lesson successful cities have learned is simple but fundamental. First the city must attract the
workers; their presence in the city in turn attracts firms. In short, the traditional competition

among cities has shifted from providing incentives (subsidies) to firms and employers to relocate
to providing incentives (subsidies and amenities) for high skilled workers to relocate.
The idea of a major urban redevelopment should be viewed through the lens of this paradigm
shift. Workers are looking for nice places to live, with a lot of amenities. Some cities have natural
amenities such as good weather year round or mountains with lots of ski resorts nearby. Other
cities have created their own amenities based on their local culture. One example is the music
industry. An important part of the success of Nashville, Austin, and even Seattle is their vibrant
and unique local music scenes. Cities now must provide a wide array of high quality and unique
amenities to attract a mobile and educated workforce.
Sports related entertainment provides another potentially important amenity to attract a younger
workforce. The academic literature has shown that a sports arena as part of a redevelopment plan
can help to revitalized underutilized parts of a city. A good example of this process is in
Columbus Ohio, where a new arena was opened in 2000 for the National Hockey League (NHL)
Columbus Blue Jackets. The arena is also used by an arena football team and for other
entertainment. A largely abandoned section of the city has been revitalized as part of what is
called the “Arena District.” Can the Bucks redevelopment plan do for Milwaukee what the Blue
Jackets have done for Columbus?

A Brief Look at Arenas and Stadiums
Stadiums and arenas have been in existence since people have been competing with each other
and a portion of the population cared enough to watch the competition. Perhaps the first known
arena was the Roman Coliseum, built in 80 AD so that Romans could watch gladiators fight
( In the U.S., the connection between the arena and the
team was sometimes so strong that they are forever linked together – the Polo Grounds and the
Giants, Yankee Stadium and the Yankees, and Madison Square Garden and the New York
Knicks. Early sports arenas were really just places for fans to watch their teams compete. There
were no concessions, and sightlines were often restricted. These stadiums and arenas were
located in downtown areas, next to train stations and within walking distance of homes and
public transportation.
As the automobile become the predominant form of transportation, stadiums and arenas adjusted
by moving into the suburbs. Often an arena would be surrounded by acres of surface parking
lots. A good example of this type of arena was the Capital Centre (formerly the USAir Arena)
located in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. While this configuration provided easy
access to suburban fans, the parking lots physically separated the facility from the neighborhood
around it and the urban core.


Figure 1: Capital Centre Aerial View

Source: Capital Centre satellite view, Image U.S.GS de Nasa World Wind 1.3.5
The Capital Centre was completed in 1973 and was actively used by local NBA and NHL teams,
college sports teams, other sports teams, and for events such as concerts. The Capital Centre was
demolished in 2002 and effectively replaced by an arena (the Verizon Center) in downtown
Washington DC.

The movement of sports facilities from the city to the suburbs began to reverse course in the
1990s. Camden Yards in Baltimore (baseball) and formerly Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field,
baseball) in Cleveland were among the first to show the potential benefits of developing a
sporting complex downtown. Many cities and their professional teams have since been following
this trend, in all the major sporting leagues. For instance, the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI
Center) is located in downtown Washington, D.C. in the Chinatown neighborhood. The arena
reflects the cultural heritage of the location and is seamlessly imbedded into the urban landscape.


Figure 2: The Verizon Center Street View

Source: (
The Verizon Center opened in 1997 and hosts a variety of sporting and cultural events.
The move from the city to the suburbs and back to the city partly reflects the same economic
path of the cities themselves, but it also reflects a change in the fan base. Traditionally, the fan
base was made up of middle or working class households. But by at least the 2000s, the
corporate fan base was becoming a critical part of any professional sports team and arena. This
fan is not usually located in the suburbs but inside the city, and the luxury suites in modern
arenas are used to entertain clients and provide fringe benefits for employees. By 2000, the
corporate fan was willing to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 annually for a suite in an
arena (Chapin, 2000). In this same time period, there was a growing perception that downtown
stadiums are useful mechanisms to aid redevelopment of challenging locations in the urban core.

Cities and Competition
Classic urban economics helped us understand two things about cities – 1) why they exist, and 2)
why in the middle of downtown the buildings are at their tallest and both rents and values are at
their highest (Ling and Archer, 2010).

From this point of view, cities exist to sell goods and services to people who do not live in the
city. This is because when you sell to outsiders (export), the money used to purchase the goods
and services is infused (imported) into the local economy. The more a city can sell goods and
services to other locations, the bigger the city can get. It is this export activity that drives the
demand for all the local (non-export) economic activity such as grocery shopping, car repair,
haircuts, etc. Over time the goods and services that cities export has changed. Many cities in the
U.S. started as trading posts for fur and lumber. Over time, many cities shifted to manufacturing
and then more recently to services and information related goods. The most successful cities
have adapted quickly to the next important mode of exporting goods that are demanded by the
world at large.
The shape of the city depends on the need or desire to be in certain locations (downtown for
instance). If a lot of firms or people want to be in a specific location, they will bid up land and
property values. When prices get high enough it will become profitable to start building multiple
story buildings. In classic urban economics, this relationship depends critically on transportation
costs. Land and property near to the rail station or port is valued the highest because this is where
the goods are shipped out. As firms move further way from the point of export (rail or port) there
is less money left over to pay for property use. As a result, as a firm moves further away from the
export location, the lower prices and rents are. The same process applies for the workers who bid
to use property with income left over after paying their transportation costs of getting to work
and back. As a result, space gets segmented into different types of uses depending on who is
willing to bid more.
Technology change has had large impacts on the shape and purpose of cities. The first major
challenge for cities in the U.S. came as freeway systems became widely developed. These new
transportation avenues made export locations in cities (such as ports and rail yards), far less
critical to firms. This allowed firms to move to the suburbs so they could be closer to their
workforce and away from expensive urban land. The second major challenge for cities was a
substantial reduction in transportation costs for the general population. The widespread use of the
car made the cost of traveling to work lower, so more households could live further away from
work or the city. Both of these challenges made traditional downtown property less valuable and
less desirable. As a result, cities and especially many downtowns struggled to find a reason for
existing. In general, cities became more spread out and had multiple nodes of concentrated
economic activity. Joel Garreau popularized this idea by examining what he called “edge cities”
(Garreau, 1991).
Even though substantial numbers of firms and households were moving to the suburbs, they were
still recreating mini-cities (edge cities). These mini-cities had many of the attributes of a
traditional city, including higher rents and property values and eventually congestion. This
indicated that firms intentionally located near to each other even when there was no key export
location and transportation costs were low. Urban economists searched for reasons why this
would be. They found that many types of workers are more productive in locations when there
are a lot of other workers around. This higher productivity makes it possible for firms to pay
higher wages. The benefits of agglomerating workers in a physical location seems to be strongest


for educated employees, but the benefits can extend even to supermarkets (for example, Garrate
and Pennington-Cross 2014, Rosenthal and Strange 2008).
Due to rapid improvements in computing, computers, and communications, throughout the 2000s
the role of transportation costs in shaping cities was again radically changed. If everyone could
just hold virtual meetings, there would no need to have an office and no need for anyone to live
in a city. However, cities did not crumble. Instead, many large cities flourished and creativity
(another word for productivity) became the reason of the day for office space and shared office
configurations. To enhance creativity, office space is being reorganized. In many firms,
individual offices are being replaced with benches and small shared desks. Shared or interactive
space is being increased to enhance and internalize the productivity gains associated with
workers interacting with each other. See the Economist magazine for a discussion of this topic in
an article entitled “The office cubicle: Inside the box, How workers ended up in cubes—and how
they could break free,” by Michigan Holland Jan 3 2015.
The shift in the purpose and shape of a city—from the need for physically exporting a good to
organizing people and space to maximize productivity—has also affected how cities compete
with each other. Traditionally, cities attempted to attract companies with low wage workers and
low cost land and buildings because this increases profits. But as firms now focus on
productivity and creativity, they need to locate in places where there is a large pool of highly
skilled workers. In this sense, firms are following the workers. So, cities must compete less on
input costs (wages and land) and more on ways to attract large quantities of high skilled workers.
Thus, the primary challenge for a mid-sized city like Milwaukee is to provide an amenity
package that can make it an attractive place to live for highly skilled workers. It competes
directly in the regional labor pool of recent college and graduate school graduates with Chicago,
Illinois. Despite recent challenges in Chicago and Illinois (crime, public leader corruption, and
fiscal/budgetary strain), the city continues to attract the types of firms that need a deep and
talented workforce that benefits most from the agglomeration-driven productivity gains. See
“Companies Say Goodbye to the Burbs: Young Talent Wants to Live in Chicago, Not
Libertyville; Dilemma for Older Workers,” by Lauren Weber Dec 4 2013, published in the Wall
Street Journal.
Milwaukee has many attributes that make it an attractive place. It has most if not all of the major
cultural amenities associated with large cities. It has a wide array of museums and interesting
architecture, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum, HarleyDavidson Museum, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Discovery World, Grohmann
Museum, Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, and Thomas A. Greene Memorial
Museum. Imbedded in this list are major icons of Milwaukee located on the waterfront of Lake
Michigan. The successful weaving of the lake and the Milwaukee River into the city is unique
amenity that other midsized Midwest cities have struggled to create or cannot create. Another


unique amenity offered by Milwaukee is Summerfest, which brings a wide array of popular
musical talent to the area.
High quality professional sports teams provide another potentially important amenity. The
Milwaukee Brewers (Major League Baseball) and the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA) are well-known
professional sports teams. Both teams have the ability to attract fans from outside the city and the
region. For example, Mayborne estimates that approximately 30% of the attendees are from
outside of the metropolitan area. (See “Economic Impact of the Bradley Center,” by Bret
Mayborne, March 2012.)

The Economic Impact of Sport Stadiums and Arenas
The Amenity and Public Good
Sporting events and the stadiums they are located in can be viewed as one of the amenities that a
city uses to attract a skilled workforce and the firms that want to employ this workforce. You do
not have to attend the games to benefit from the existence of the team. The team’s games can be
watched on TV or online; discussions about the game and team can continue at work the next
day and via online discussion forums and social networks. The existence and popularity of these
activities indicates that people value their local professional sports teams. The fact that anyone
can enjoy the team without directly paying for it (attending games) makes professional sport
teams and their arenas a public good.
It is almost impossible to measure directly the value of the sports team amenity. However,
economists can use rents paid on housing to indirectly measure its value. Carlino and Coulson
(2004) do just this using individual household property rents. They examine the impact of having
an NFL franchise on rents within central cities and metropolitan areas as a whole. They find that
rents are 8 percent higher within the city with a team and 4 percent higher within the
metropolitan area. This provides strong evidence that professional teams provide a substantial
public amenity to the region, one that is valued by people living in the region.
The Story from the 1990s
A substantial amount of research was conducted on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas
using data through the 1980s and early 1990s. Siegfried and Zambalist (2000) review the
literature and find no evidence that a stadium or arena has a positive impact on economic
outcomes (income, income share of the region, or employment). The literature indicates that
there are several reasons for these findings. First, entertainment expenditures tend to be made on
a fixed budget. So, if a household spends money to watch to professional baseball game, it
spends less money on other forms of entertainment (going to a movie, Summerfest, museum,
eating out, etc.). Second, much of the money that goes into sporting events is not spent locally.
The players and owners receive the largest share of the revenues and both tend to spend their
money elsewhere. This reduces the ability of expenditures to create jobs and income locally.
Third, the players and owners are high income households that are typically taxed at the highest

federal income tax rate. Fourth, local municipality budgets are limited, so any subsidy or
expenditure for the sports team and its arena is often financed through an increase in taxes on
other parts of the economy or a reduction in other types of spending (See for example -Siegfried and Zimbalist 2000, Siegfried and Zimbalist 2002, Hudson 1999, Miller 2002,
Johnson, Groothuis, and Whitehead 2001, and Alexander, Kern, and Neil 2000, Coates and
Humphreys 2003).
The New, More Nuanced Story from the 21st Century
One of the major problems with the story from the 1990s was that many of the empirical findings
depended on moves of stadiums and arenas from the city to the suburbs (moves and new
stadiums in the 1960s, 70s and 80s) and not the more recent stadiums and arena redevelopments
in downtown areas. As mentioned above, the Capital Centre (opened 1973) in the Washington,
D.C., metropolitan area was typical for its time. It was surrounded by acres of surface parking
lots. This physical isolation made spillover economic activity after a game very unlikely -viewers simply drove away when the game is done. In contrast, the move to the Verizon Center
in downtown D.C. (opened 1997) from the suburbs integrates the arena into the city. This makes
it much more likely that fans leaving or arriving at the stadium will also spend some time at area
restaurants and other forms of entertainment. It is also safer if patrons have been drinking during
the game.
More recent literature began to look at new stadiums that were part of a larger redevelopment
plan and investigated the differences in outcomes and what might explain those differences.
Austrian and Rosentraub (2002) found that the redevelopment of downtowns in Cleveland and
Indianapolis performed better than the similar efforts in Columbus and Cincinnati. The authors
attributed this to the ability of sports stadiums to create a sense of place and a destination on
tracts of land that had been vacant or severely underutilized. This study was completed before
the Nationwide Arena was completed in Columbus. Santo (2005) redid some of the prior
research using newer stadiums and found that in some locations new stadiums and arenas were
associated with economic growth and in others they were not.
Case studies tended to show that some key features are required for a stadium or arena to be a
successful part of economic redevelopment. The opening of Camden Yards in Baltimore began a
new era of baseball stadiums and helped popularize sports facilities as a catalyst for urban
redevelopment. Camden Yards converted about 20 blocks of urban industrial property, which
was a sort of wasteland abutting downtown Baltimore, into a sports entertainment complex.
However, it did not aid all areas around it. It has been a success and helped feed off the
redevelopment of the waterfront area (the Inner Harbor) destination. The owners of the Orioles
(the MLB team) actively opposed entertainment development directly outside the stadium in an
attempt to keep patrons inside the Camden Yards. There was also a proliferation of ground level
parking in the lower income neighborhoods. These 2 factors limited the positive spillovers
possible from the stadium.
Cleveland also redeveloped a large plot of land on the edge of downtown called the Gateway.
The Gateway houses an NBA arena and a baseball stadium. In order to drive into downtown
Cleveland, a visitor must go right past it. There was an attempt to create a physical connection

with the nearby areas using pedestrian walkways. An association funded by local business and
corporations spent millions of dollars marketing, designing opportunities and doing feasibility
studies. The Gateway has been associated with retail, hotel and office redevelopment around the
area and stadium (Chapin, 2004).
In Detroit, Michigan, a survey of stakeholders emphasized that sports alone cannot be a
successful redevelopment tool but is useful as one part of a strategy to drive the economy and
must be one attraction among many (Trendafilova,Waller, Daniell, and McClendon 2012).
In summary, the more nuanced view of the 2000s literature is that a sports arena and stadium can
be an important part of a redevelopment plan. The redevelopment plan needs to be coordinated
with the arena and the arena itself needs to be physically integrated into the community, not
separated. Good examples of this approach are in Cleveland and Washington DC (the Verizon
Center). Both plans took underutilized land and transformed it into sports entertainment
complexes with substantial spillovers.
Other midsized cities that have used arenas and stadiums as part of their redevelopment plans
include Kansas City, Columbus, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. All of these sports facilities have
been part of a coordinated redevelopment plan that has tried to create a destination using
entertainment, food and beverage locations, and retail establishments. They have been very
successful in driving development to these locations and have transformed underperforming real
estate into multi-use locations that can attract visitors from both within the region and nation
(typically these are users of convention space who also attend a game at the arena while in town).
The key is that the arena is one of many amenities the location can offer in order to create a live,
work, play environment.
Columbus, Ohio, is a typical example. After the Austrian and Rosentraub (2002) study collected
data, Columbus constructed and opened the Nationwide Arena in 2000 primarily for the National
Hockey league (NHL) Columbus Blue Jackets. An arena football team also uses the facility. In
2009 a baseball stadium was constructed for a minor league team. The arena construction was
coordinated as one part of the Arena District redevelopment plan in Columbus. This area used to
be a neglected part of city that included a state prison and other brownfield redevelopment sites.
The arena and stadium were part of a large redevelopment plan that has incorporated multiple
different types of use including housing, office, and retail. Over the ten years from 1998 to 2008
there have been substantial increases in economic activity across all metrics, including property
values and employment. (See report titled “Assessment of the Gross Economic Impact of the
Arena District on greater Columbus.”)

The Arena District Redevelopment Plan
The proposed arena in Milwaukee is located adjacent to the vacant land where the Park East
freeway used to be. The development plan articulated by the Milwaukee Bucks includes

redeveloping all of the undeveloped land and more (“Arena District”). The academic literature
indicates that a successful arena needs to be part of a larger redevelopment plan. The new arena
should connect with the neighborhood, so that when fans are leaving and arriving at games they
have ample opportunities to stop for more recreation. Ideally, the arena is within walking
distance of multifamily housing (rental or condo). This should help to increase the value of the
amenities the arena provides. The arena should be located at an entry point to the downtown area
so on the drive to work in downtown you go right past the arena district. If possible the arena
should be linked to other amenities in the areas so that the sporting event is one of many
entertainment/enjoyment activities.
Figure 3 provides a map of the arena development site. The proposed new arena site is outlined
in green. The arena is located on streets that are easily accessible from the Interstate and have
one of the highest traffic flows in the city. See traffic count map in the Appendix. It will also be
viewed by commuters and tourists coming to downtown McKinley Avenue. The arena is also
within walking distance of many existing amenities and areas of concentrated employment.
Nearby amenities include the UWM Arena, Milwaukee Theater, the Milwaukee Public Museum,
the Marcus Theater for Performing Arts, the river itself and the expanding river walk. This will
provide visitors with a wide variety of amenities to enjoy for a wide variety household types –
art/artistic oriented households, families with young and teenage children, as well as younger and
older adults. The location is also within walking distance of existing and developing employment
zones, such as the Schlitz Park Business Campus, Pabst Brewery Business Campus, Manpower,
and the courthouse. Younger college age students (Marquette University, Milwaukee Area
Technical College, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering) are also within walking distance
to the arena site. Housing is also within walking distance across the river. For example, Jackson
Street and the area around it, where substantial multifamily development has been occurring, is 6
blocks from the arena. Figure 4 shows the restaurants and bars on Old World Third Street that
can be gathering places before and after games. Figure 5 shows the location and the estimated
number of stalls in each parking lot/structure. In total, there are over 11,000 parking spots
available within walking distance for most events. Much of this parking can be efficiently used –
used by commuters during daytime Monday-Friday and used by event attendees in the evenings
and weekends. In summary, Figure 3 shows that the proposed arena location has many of the
required features for it to be a successful part of a redevelopment plan.

Figure 3: Proposed Arena Site


Figure 4: Old World Third Street


Figure 5: Existing Parking

A key feature for a successful arena is for it to be part of a larger redevelopment plan. Figure 6
provides a look at the contemplated development plan, as provided by the Milwaukee Bucks, for
the district as a whole. The phases will be sequenced over time. Phase I includes Blocks 1, 4, 7
and 8. Block 1 will be the arena itself. Block 4 will be entertainment including retail, restaurants
and bars. Block 7 will include a parking structure that is wrapped by office, residential, and retail
uses. Block 8 is the Bucks practice facility and an office building. As part of Phase I Blocks 5
and 6 will be used as temporary surface lots.
Phase 2 will add office space, and retail on Block 2 with some grade surface level retail along
with more parking (housing is also being considered). Block 3 will include additional
entertainment-focused retail and a 300 bed hotel. This phase deliberately provides the sense of
destination to the Arena District and provides ample opportunity for customers to linger and for
residents to use the space for year-round entertainment.


Figure 6: Arena District Development Plan


Phase 3 will convert Blocks 5 and 6 from their surface lots to mixed use development including
retail, multifamily, office and parking. The retail is planned to be a grocery store.
The full Arena District redevelopment plan includes over 320,000 square feet (sf) of outdoor
space, over 280,000 entertainment and retail space, over 780,000 sf multifamily apartments, a
300 bed hotel, over 256,000 sf office space, and practice facility and over 2,900 parking spots.
In summary, the redevelopment plan includes most, if not all, of the attributes associated with
successful arena/sport centered redevelopment efforts. If all phases are actually completed, it will
convert over 10.5 acres of unused land where the park east freeway used to be into economic
active land that is integrated with the city and with the sports arena and its related entertainment
complex. Ample parking is provided without creating any permanent surface level parking,
assuming Phase 3 is completed. The arena will be better integrated into the existing amenities,
places to work, and places to play, all of which are within walking distance the arena.
Estimates of Permanent Direct Employment:
The redevelopment plan summarized above includes a lot of new buildings. It is possible to
estimate the likely employment associated with the new development as follows:
Retail: Typical retail space needs approximately 1 employee for each 425 sf of space (Source:
page 15 of and page 22 of ). Grocery space typically needs 1 employee
for each 700 sf of space (Source: page 446 of the pdf
%20Files/Home_Paradise_Regional_Center.pdf). In total there is a plan for 280,000 sf of retail.
Approximately 70,000 sf of that total is for the grocer, while the remaining 210,000 is for general
retail. Therefore, the total expected retail employment is 594 employees (70,000/700 +
Practice Facility: The Bucks practice facility currently has 55 employees (players and support
staff) and is planned to be similarly staffed in the future.
Apartments: The typical garden apartment has one full time employee per 39 units (Source: page
36 of the pdf ). The over 780,000 sf of multifamily housing
includes an estimated 710 units. Therefore, the housing will require 18 full time employees.
Moreover, these apartments will require a concierge at all times (3 full time employees per
building for the 6 buildings). The total anticipated employment for the proposed multifamily
apartments is 36 (18 + 18).
Office: The amount of space that a typical office worker needs has been declining over time.
Estimates range from about 150 sf of space per worker to 180 sf per worker. For this analysis I
will use 180 sf per worker, which is likely higher than necessary (Source:
15 and The total anticipated employment for the proposed office space is 1,422 jobs
(256,000 sf / 180 sf per worker).
The total estimated long-term (non-construction) employment associated with the development is
2,107 employees (594 retail +55 practice + 36 apartments + 1,422 office). This estimate excludes
arena specific employment.

The traditional competition between cities has changed dramatically over time. In the 1800s most
cities existed as a point of trade where goods were shipped into the city and out again to other
cities both inside and outside the U.S. The critical attribute for a successful city was being at a
key cog of the transportation network. The most valuable land was located as close as possible to
the physical location (rail or water port, typically) where the goods were exported. Over time
manufacturing became the economic driver of many cities. The manufactured goods again
needed to be transported (exported) to other cities or other countries. The widespread use of
automobiles and trucks, along with the interstate highway system, allowed cities to spread out
and become less dense as households and firms moved to the suburbs. This change in
transportation technology fundamentally changed the optimal shape and density of cities. But
even bigger changes were introduced in the 1990s and 2000s as information and
telecommunication technology became a viable alternative to being in an office. The goods and
services being exported only needed a computer and a quality connection to the internet. Workers
were no longer physically tied to downtown. Despite these technological changes it turned out
that people are more productive at work when they are physically interacting with each other. So,
firms began focusing on innovative and collaborative office space to maximize these
productivity gains.
Cities now must attract a sufficiently large number of highly educated and collaborative
households. If a city fails to do so, it will be at a competitive disadvantage because its workers
will be less productive. In fact, many companies are moving their offices from the suburbs into
the cities to attract just these types of workers. The jobs are following the people, even if the
people live in high cost urban locations. A city can attract these workers with a wide variety and
large number of amenities – in short, it must be a good place to live.
Milwaukee has an opportunity to focus on taking advantage of the amenities that are in place
today and adding new ones over time. Seemingly simple things like the change in format of
small public radio station, 88.9 WYMS, in 2007 from Jazz and Polka music to an eclectic adult
alternative music format can have meaningful impacts on a city. The station has helped spur a
renaissance in the local music scene, and raises hopes that Milwaukee might someday rival
musical centers such as Austin, Seattle and Nashville. Milwaukee also has cultural and artistic


institutions that you would associated with larger cities (Milwaukee Art Museum, major league
professional sports in baseball and basketball, Summerfest, etc).
The Milwaukee Bucks have proposed to build a new arena and to redevelop the vacant park east
freeway land. The Arena District redevelopment plan includes over 320,000 square feet (sf) of
outdoor space, over 280,000 sf of entertainment and retail space, over 780,000 sf multifamily
apartments, a 300 bed hotel, over 256,000 sf office space, a new sport arena, a practice facility
for the Bucks, and over 2,900 new parking spots. I estimate that all of this development will
bring with it approximately 2,100 permanent (not- construction related) jobs to the city of
Milwaukee. The arena redevelopment plan meets all the basic requirements of successful
projects identified by the academic literature – 1) the arena is physically integrated with the
surrounding area, 2) there are only a limited number of or no new surface parking lots, and 3) the
arena needs to close to other amenities, jobs and housing.
In conclusion, the Arena District redevelopment plan provides an opportunity to develop
underutilized land that has been an eyesore for a decade and to provide an important and valued
amenity that helps Milwaukee compete for a creative workforce to attract future companies to
the region.


Appendix: Traffic Counts


Academic References
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