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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Fiserv Forum – Milwaukee Bucks

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Fiserv Forum 1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave Milwaukee, WI 53203

Year Opened: 2018

Capacity: 17,500


Fiserv Forum: Bucks, Beer, and Bird-Friendly

The Fiserv Forum has been the home of the Milwaukee Bucks since the 2018-2019 NBA season. The $524 million multi-purpose venue has a capacity of 17,500 for basketball and connects multiple neighborhoods and districts that include The Brewery, Milwaukee Waterfront, Old World 3rd Street, and Wisconsin Center. It also borders the “The Deer District” entertainment center.

The forum has a unique design that features “a swooping roof and extensive glass to evoke Wisconsin’s natural beauty and Milwaukee’s rich heritage of industry and craftsmen.” The design was inspired by the bountiful rivers, lakes, and forests of the region. The interior offers soft, white colors and rich zinc hues along with darkly colored seating to allow the court to stand out.

The design of the interior structure also has a somewhat unfinished look or resembles a barrel of some type. The curved portion looks like a finely contoured piece of wood and includes strips of window panels that produce natural lighting at each level of the building. There are more windows above the main entrance that emulate green lighting at night.

Fiserv Forum is a LEED Certification facility that encourages energy and resource-efficient buildings, and savings from increased building value, higher lease rates, and decreased utility costs. The forum uses native plants that reduce the amount of water needed for nourishment, low-flow toilets that reduce water by 30 percent, heat recovery technology that reduces heat by 12 percent, and only paper straws are available at the concession stands.

The forum is the Bucks third home since its inception in 1968. The Bucks called the Milwaukee Arena (now UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena) home until 1988 before moving next door to the BMO Bradley Center. The Bradley Center has been razed and stood in between both sporting venues. It is now a large vacant lot that could be developed sometime soon.

Food & Beverage 4

Fiserv Forum does an incredible job of providing multiple foods and beverage options for Bucks games. Several local businesses are detailed in the Southside Market area in the upper concourse, along with a few other favorites on the main concourse. The variety is plenty but limited due to the pandemic and staffing during our visit. It should be noted that a majority offer online purchases only through the Bucks app on your smartphone.

FreshFin Poke, Mac Shack, Sobleman’s, Laughing Taco, Iron Gate Barbecue, El Rey’s, and Klement’s are a few local restaurants that can be found inside the building. They all feature custom items, and long lines form before the game and at half-time. A few stands were closed during our visit, but various locations helped out with patrons getting a taste of Milwaukee.

The highlights include the brisket or burnt ends platter at Iron Gate, the pork carnitas torta at the Laughing Taco, and pork belly burnt ends mac and cheese at Mac Shack. Klement’s features locally made hot dogs and brats, Canal Street Pizza serves huge squared slices of pizza, and who wouldn’t want a freshly made burger or fried cheese curds from Sobleman’s locations. The Jack and Coke boneless wings and pulled totchos are popular choices.

Alcoholic beverages can be purchased at multiple locations that include a Jack Daniels, Leinenkugel’s, and Coors Light bar. Drink Wisconsibility locations feature local craft beers from Lakefront, Eagle Park, City Lights, and New Glarus. Coca-Cola products are available for non-alcoholic patrons at the game. Frozen Jack & Coke, Lynchburg lemonade with Sprite, and Jack’s Rye Blueberry Basil Smash are specialty options instead of beer.

Atmosphere 4

The Fiserv Forum delivers as promised in terms of the atmosphere; it’s a building as impressive as the Bucks on the floor. There are wide open concourse floors that see a variety of local food and drink, open seating areas providing excellent views of the court, natural lighting from the elongated windows, and flat screens that help patrons order food, move around, and know current information.

The forum includes the largest center-hung scoreboard in the league weighing 38 tons. The four main side displays each measure approximately 25 feet high by 29 feet wide, with 6-millimeter line spacing to provide high-resolution imagery to fans throughout the arena. The lower bowl offers 10,000 seats, while the upper bowl includes 6,000 seats. A 100-foot window on the eastern side of the buildings offers beautiful views of downtown Milwaukee day or night.

Both main concourses wrap around the building and offer areas to sit down and enjoy a meal or drink; there are also four-team shops to purchase various Bucks gear in addition to a Mitchell and Ness kiosk for old-school Bucks gear. It is on the upper concourse next to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar giant bobblehead. The 6,000 square foot Bucks Pro Shop is near the main entrance, and fans can choose from caps, shirts, jerseys, pennants, and sweatshirts.

The Kohl’s Court is a family activity center located on the main concourse. The amenities include oversized basketball hoops, replica lockers, a DJ, and other family-friendly activities. The Panorama Club features hip décor, neo lighting, cocktail tables, and a private bar with a court view. The sensory rooms feature soft carpeting, tactile wall hangings, and comfortable furniture designed for guests with developmental disabilities who need a quiet space during events.

Neighborhood 5

The Deer District is a 30-acre space that offers pre and post-game activities. It includes festivities, dining, and entertainment options within a few steps of the forum. They make great options before a Bucks game due to drink prices almost half the price of what you will pay inside the arena. It is recommended to arrive a little early to enjoy the entertainment district.

Good City Brewing offers freshly brewed beer, stone-fired pizza, and burgers. The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill serves pub food and includes a 42-foot wide ultra high definition screen. The Drink Wisconsinbly Pub is another spot for a beer before the game. Punch Bowl Social is a restaurant and entertainment venue currently closed but plans to re-open sometime soon. The district also has a large flat-screen television and patio seating, optimal for springtime contests.

Directly behind the Deer District in the Old World, 3rd Street offers plenty more options for restaurants and bars. Carson’s, Brick 3 Pizza, Historic Turner Restaurant, Old German Beer Hall, and Ale Asylum Riverhouse. A few tourist spots include the Wisconsin Cheese Mart and Usinger’s Famous Sausage which offer copious amounts of cheese and sausage products.

The Fiserv Forum is next to the Bucks original home venue, UW Milwaukee Panther Arena, where one has the opportunity to take in a doubleheader with either a Milwaukee Admirals (minor league hockey) or Milwaukee Wave (indoor soccer) game. You might also want to take in a Marquette basketball game at the Fiserv Forum if you are there an extra day in town.

Fans 4

A crowd of 13,000 fans packed the forum for a Monday night game against a less than stellar team. The ushers were expecting closer to 11,000, but that did not take away from the fans’ reaction as the Bucks dropped close to 80 points before half-time. The Milwaukee fan is a hard-working individual who finally has a modern arena to watch a championship NBA team that should compete for a title with deep playoff runs for some time.

Access 4

The Fiserv Forum offers wide concourses, natural lighting, copious escalators and elevators, and plenty of open views of the court from the concourse levels. The doors open an hour before tip-off with plenty of room to wait and mingle in the Deer District, wide bars provide spacing for fans to enjoy food and drink, and multiple sponsored concession areas also provide additional seating. Outside the venue are ample parking lots surrounding the arena and several blocks over to accommodate fans driving into the city on Interstates 43 or 94.

Return on Investment 3

A ticket to the game will depend on multiple factors that include the day of the week and the opponent. Tickets can be as low as $15 for a weekday game against a less-than-popular opponent but will triple in price against sexier teams in the NBA. Depending on what website you look at, the average ticket will be anywhere from $50 to $70.

Parking will cost around $30-35 at or near the building. There is meter parking for $2 an hour that expires at 9 PM—if attending an evening game and arriving early enough, you could grab one of these spots at around $10 for the night. There are parking garages that charge from $5 to $15 across the river if willing to walk a little further. It does get cold in Milwaukee during the early winter month.

Fiserv Forum concession prices are among some of the highest in the league. However, that depends on what website you view. There was not anything that jumped out during our visit. A hot dog from Klement’s is $8 (somewhat high), and a Miller Lite was $12 (somewhat on par with comparable venues). Other prices included a slice of pizza at $9, the fried cheese curds are $8, and a chicken tender basket with fries is $14.

Extras 4

The Forum has many points that include wide concourses, specifically designed sections of the building to incorporate a local business, natural lighting from the curved windows, and a friendly staff that caters to fans’ needs at every moment. After a conversation with Connie’s season-ticket representative, I must have accidentally been sitting in her seat. The arena earns a few more points for the Deer District. The area provides a meeting place for fans before the game and an entertainment venue for playoff games and other events. The Forum is a Bird-Friendly Arena and features many window panes with fritted glass, visible to birds to reduce collisions.

Final Thoughts

The Fiserv Forum is an architectural beauty and offers everything a fan would want in an NBA area. The concourses are spacious, the food is varied, the views are open, and the service is top-notch. When you add the Deer District and Third Street as nearby destination options before the game, the Bucks fans sure have one hell of a place to enjoy their team. It is a beautiful place for a basketball game.

Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and Instagram.

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