Photos by Lloyd Brown & Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Fiserv Forum FANFARE Score: 3.71
Fiserv Forum 1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave Milwaukee, WI 53203
Year Opened: 2018 Capacity: 17,341
Where Golden Eagles Soar
The Marquette University Golden Eagles basketball program is one of the most storied NCAA basketball programs in the country. The Golden Eagles are members of the Big East Conference. The program holds the record as the ninth highest number of NCAA postseason appearances with 30 NCAA Tournament appearances and 15 NIT Tournament appearances. The Golden Eagles won the 1977 National Championship, was a finalist in 1974 and went to the semifinals in 2003. They have been led by such coaching legends as Al McGuire and Rick Majerus. Amongst the elite players to come out of the Golden Eagles programs are Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, Butch Lee, Maurice Lucas, Doc Rivers, and Jerome Whitehead.
From 1988-2018 the Marquette basketball program called the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee their home court. In 2018 they moved next door to the brand-new Fiserv Forum, which also serves as the home of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Fiserv Forum was built to replace the Bradley Center, as it no longer met NBA standards for an arena and was the oldest non-renovated arena in the league. Marquette signed a lease with the Fiserv Forum through 2025, leaving them the option to move to a smaller capacity, an on-campus arena at Marquette in the future if they decide to build one.
The Fiserv Forum has a capacity of 17,341 for basketball, with 10,000 of those seats in the lower seating bowl. It is the first new sports and entertainment arena built in Wisconsin since 2002. It has thirty-four suites and three clubs and offers excellent sightlines from anywhere in the facility. It offers a full electronics package, including ribbon boards and the largest symmetrical scoreboard in the NBA. The scoreboard weighs 76,00 pounds and its panels measure 25 feet high by 29 feet wide. Naming rights for the arena belong to Fiserv Financial, a financial services technology company based in a Milwaukee suburb.
Food & Beverage 4
Fiserv Forum has followed the lead of many of the other new stadiums and arenas that promote local restaurants heavily in its concessions program. Its program is known as “MKE Eats” and it features such local eateries as The Laughing Taco, Canal Street Pizzeria, Sobelman’s Burgers, Gold Rush Chicken, and Klements. It does have a smattering of national brands represented, including Chick-fil-A.
As you would expect, in a town known worldwide for its beer, the arena’s alcoholic beverage offerings cover nearly every beer brand in the country. Brands with stands in the Fiserv Forum include Coors, Miller, Leinenkugel’s, and Pabst. There are four craft beer spots located around the arena featuring the beers from the local brew makers. The frequency of concession stands in the upper level of the Fiserv Forum is much lower on the upper level of the facility than the lower. You may want to make your purchases on the concourse level of the arena to avoid the long lines.
It is not a big secret who the primary tenant is at Fiserv Forum, as the Milwaukee Bucks signage is predominant throughout the building. However, once you are in the seating bowl of the arena, the Marquette logo and branding are everywhere on game day. The blue and gold color scheme of the court and huge “MU” at midcourt and Marquette Golden Eagles printed along the baselines assure you that you are in the right place. There is also signage at the tops of each of the two student sections featuring the Marquette branding. The video board above the playing surface also plays Marquette on a consistent basis, although upcoming events at the Fiserv Forum are promoted during the game as well.
If you look up at the rafters, you will find that they are filled with banners reflecting the many championships the Golden Eagles have won and the many future NBA legends who wore the blue and gold during their college days.
The student sections are divided behind each basket, assuring the visiting team will be distracted at their offensive end of the court throughout the game. The Golden Eagles fans can match the decibel level found at any Milwaukee Bucks game. They are assisted by the Marquette University Pep Band and Iggy, the Golden Eagle Mascot. The baseline seats are a sea of golden and blue at every home game.
Most alumni of the school stay in the greater Milwaukee area after graduation. They also make up a sizable portion of the audience at Golden Eagles home games. It is not unusual to find many of the players from the National Championship team of 1977 in the house, as they are incredibly supportive of the basketball program.
The district surrounding the Fiserv Forum is known as the Deer District. This is a play on the Milwaukee Bucks moniker. The 30-acre area is being developed as Milwaukee’s live/work/play area within its downtown confines. An entertainment block has already been established across the street from the arena, with tenants including Good City Brewing Company, Punch Bowl Social, and Drink Wisconsinbly. Other restaurants in the area are the MECCA Sports Bar and Grill, the Cluckery, and Insomnia Cookies. Loft apartments near the arena opened in 2019 to begin to fill the “live” component of the district and a new office tower has been built to encompass the “work” portion of the triad. These are just the preliminary wave of development in the Deer District, with numerous projects in the construction phase.
Another area close by is the Milwaukee Riverwalk, which includes a wide variety of restaurants and shops along its length. The “Bronze Fonz” statue is also a popular photo stop as the statue of Fonzie from “Happy Days” salutes Milwaukee for serving as the fictitious home of the Cunningham family.
Marquette has a much longer winning tradition than the Bucks, as their appearances in the postseason have far outpaced their NBA brethren. Before 2019, the Bucks had only won one NBA title back in the days of Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The Golden Eagles fanbase is used to winning teams and is very loyal in its support. The alumni base for Marquette University is also heavily skewed to residents of the Milwaukee area, so they have never lost touch with the team over the years.
The Fiserv Forum offers easy access from every direction in the greater Milwaukee area. It is located less than a 15-minute drive from the city’s main airport General Mitchell Airport. The arena also offers easy access from both I-94 and I-43, the main interstates serving the Milwaukee area.
Directions from I-43: From I-93 North take exit 73A (McKinley Avenue). Go right on McKinley Avenue to 5th Street. Turn right on 5th. Fiserv Forum will be one block left and a right onto 4th Street.
Directions from I-94: Take I-94 East to I-43 North. Exit at 72C and proceed through the Kilbourn Avenue tunnel. At the next light turn left onto 6th Street and go two blocks north. Fiserv Forum will be on your left.
Once at the arena, you will be able to find parking either connected to or adjacent to Fiserv Forum. This is especially important when winter comes, and the temperatures drop. There are three main entrances into the facility, in addition to a season ticket owner-only entry. The concourses in the building are wider than most NBA and college arenas. The Fiserv Forum has ten escalators and ten elevators to transport you to the second level of seats. There are nineteen women’s restrooms and fifteen men’s restrooms in the facility, so you should not encounter any long lines, even during the halftime breaks.
Return on Investment 4
A night out at a Golden Eagles game is much easier on the pocketbook than attending a Bucks game at the same facility. Tickets range in price from $32-$38 for most games, with variable pricing in place for marquee games such as Notre Dame, UCLA, and the University of Wisconsin and Big East Conference games. Parking is available in the 5th Street Parking structure, which is attached to the Forum by a sky bridge, for $20. The Highland parking structure also serves the Forum for the same cost. The prices for concessions at the Fiserv Forum are quite reasonable in comparison with other NBA-level facilities.
The Fiserv Forum’s unusual, curved exterior is meant to represent the major waterways, the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, which serve as important parts of the city’s history.
The Fiserv Forum has a “no bag” policy in effect for entry into the facility. Its security rules are amongst the toughest in the nation in this regard.
The Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame is located just down the street from the Forum. It is located outside of the UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena. This building was formerly known as the MECCA, and it served as the home to both Marquette and the Bucks during the 1970s.
Make sure you look up during your visit to the Fiserv Forum. There are a vast number of Marquette banners hanging from the rafters saluting the many championships the Golden Eagles have won over the years.
The Fiserv Forum is a wonderful NBA arena and makes a good home for a high-end college basketball program.