MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers men’s basketball team has finally stamped its name on downtown Milwaukee. The “UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena” was born in a June 26 agreement between UWM and the Wisconsin Center District, which has the controlling interest of the arena. The 10 year deal will give UWM naming rights over the facility.
“Having UWM’s name on the downtown arena is an important symbol of our deep commitment to the City of Milwaukee and the entire region,” said UWM Interim Chancellor Mark Mone. “It fits well with our strategic plan to enhance the university’s brand and to further position UWM as Milwaukee’s university.”
Head Coach Rob Jeter’s comments held more of a spiritual symbolism.
“I talk to my team a lot about the name that’s in front of our jersey, and while every time we step out on the court, we want to make sure we represent Milwaukee to the best of our abilities,” said Jeter. “And now people can drive by Panther Arena and be proud of the name that’s out in front.”
Vice Chancellor for Community Relations Tom Luljak reinforced the fact that this move is a demonstration of the university’s longstanding commitment to the city of Milwaukee.
“We have 143,000 alumni; many of them live in this region. Having our name on this building is a reminder to them that the mission that UW-Milwaukee has to serve the entire region, to be an institution that meets the needs of this urban area is greater today than ever before.”
No longer will the UWM Panthers’ home court advantage be masked beneath blue and red seats in Milwaukee’s historic downtown arena – after all, they’ve been playing there since the early ‘90s. Undoubtedly, visiting teams will realize just where they are when they’re drowning in Milwaukee black and gold.
“It’s going to be a lot more intimidating,” Jeter later said at the women’s basketball golf outing. “Now when you come in, you know you’re in a hostile environment.”
Other advantages lie beyond the actual competitions to take place in the Panther Arena. UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun noted the advantage the naming rights should give to recruiting efforts, which Coach Jeter echoed in his comments at the press conference.
UWM agreed to pay 3.4 million dollars over the 10-year period of its naming rights. The renovations included in the deal are to occur over the next three years, including Panthers signage and even a new scoreboard.
The university will also enjoy the arena as a venue for various other school events, such as concerts and nationally known speakers and possibly even other sporting events.
The agreement is good through 2024, and UWM has an option to extend the deal through 2029.