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Milwaukee Bucks’ Finals Success Giving Region An Economic Boost

Bucks Have A Chance To Win NBA Finals In Milwaukee Tuesday Night

A sea of fans can be seen in front of the FIserv Forum.
Angela Major/WPR

Jrue Holiday’s steal and alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetounmpo for a dunk sealed a wild Game 5 and gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 123-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Antetokounmpo had 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Khris Middleton added 29 points, and Holiday had 27 points and 13 assists.

The Bucks shot their way out of an early 16-point hole but then won it by making a huge defensive play for the second straight game.

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They can win their first title since 1971 Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

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Bars on Old World Third Street, near the Milwaukee Bucks’ home at Fiserv Forum, have been packed with customers, even on days with no game set to take place.

Take Mader’s Restaurant. Fourth-generation owner Kristin Mader said the crowds have been strong on game nights. She said she expects that to continue into Game 6 and, if it happens, Game 7 of the series.

I can’t even imagine how overwhelmed with joy the city is going to be,” said Mader. “After COVID, everything downtown has been coming raging back with great optimism and lots of attendance in the restaurants and bar scene.”

The economic impact, however, stretches far beyond the Deer District.

Claire Koenig, the communications director for the city’s visitor bureau Visit Milwaukee, said each Bucks home game during the playoffs has brought at least $3 million into the city’s economy, not including the impact of events in the Deer District around the stadium.

“To go from fully closed to, you know, raking in the cash because there’s thousands of people trying to go to your business, that is really good for them,” said Koenig. “It is badly needed.”

Koenig said sports fans “are generally very good tourists.”

“They do not just come for one thing and then pack up and leave,” said Koenig. “They’ll come, they go to museums, obviously, they’re going to restaurants and bars, but they’ll take the brewery tours, too … It really does trickle down, and that is great for a lot of people.”

Koenig said the morale boost the games have provided the city has also been much needed.

“I think you see a lot of people coming together just, you know, united with some Milwaukee pride, but united by this incredible team as well and just their passion for the team,” said Koenig. “It has just been amazing.”

Koenig said the Finals have even brought the city some international attention. She said it’s the kind of exposure money can’t buy. Travel Wisconsin has also taken advantage of the attention the NBA Finals have brought to the area with TV ads in other Midwest markets during each game.

As for the future, Koenig said more events could be anchored in the Fiserv Forum’s plaza after the Bucks’ success.

“They just figured out how to activate this area probably better than anyone ever imagined they could,” said Koenig. “What else could they bring down here to keep it lively and full of people year round?”

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.