Milwaukee Admirals owner/CEO Harris Turer, along with the Wisconsin Center District (WCD), announced today that the team will move to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena beginning in the 2016-17 American Hockey League season.
The team has signed a 10-year lease with the WCD, which was approved by a vote of their Board of Directors earlier this morning. The lease culminates extended negotiations between the Admirals and the building to secure the long-term stability of the franchise. The Admirals currently play 38 home games each season, plus playoff contests, beginning in October and running potentially into June. As part of the lease the Admirals will also invest significant capital into the building.
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for our franchise and our fans,” said Turer. “We thank the Wisconsin Center District and its Board of Directors for helping to create this partnership which will keep Admirals hockey and entertainment in downtown Milwaukee for the long-term. As an organization, we also look forward to working with the WCD to enhance the Panther Arena which will create a great home ice advantage for our players and our fans.”
The Admirals have a rich history at the Panther Arena, formally known as the MECCA. The team began play there in the mid-1970s when they were a semi-pro team in the USHL and continued through the 1986-87 season. The team continued to call the MECCA home after joining the International Hockey League in 1977 and many of the greatest players in team history called the building home including Danny Lecours, Fred Berry, Dale Yakiwchuk and the team’s all-time winningest coach Phil Wittliff.
The Admirals final regular season home game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center will be Friday, April 15 against the Bakersfield Condors. The Ads have played at the Bradley Center since the building was built by then team-owner Jane Pettit in 1988, first as a member of the IHL before joining the American Hockey League in 2001.
“The BMO Harris Bradley Center has been a world-class facility for fans and players,” said Turer. “Our organization is indebted to [Bradley Center CEO] Steve Costello and his staff for all of the work they have done to make Admirals hockey a success. However, given future developments in the immediate vicinity of the building, now is the right time for us to make this move to ensure our future success.”
"Congratulations to Harris Turer and to the Wisconsin Center District on today’s announcement," said David Andrews, President and Chief Executive Officer of the AHL. "The Admirals have been a model franchise both on and off the ice since joining the AHL in 2001, and we’re extremely glad that they will continue to be a staple of the Milwaukee community for the foreseeable future."
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena is also home to the UWM Men’s Basketball team and the Milwaukee Wave professional indoor soccer team.
The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) is a government body created under Wisconsin State Statute in 1994 to fund, build and operate the Midwest Express Center (now Wisconsin Center) in downtown Milwaukee, and continue operating the existing venues now called the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and Milwaukee Theatre.
Not a unit of state, county or city government, WCD is instead a semi-autonomous municipality called a "district," meaning its leaders are appointed by elected officials, and it can issue bonds and collect taxes within strict limits established by statute.