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In Marketplace

The boss always gets to hang onto the trophy.

In Marketplace

"We did all the due diligence and saw there was a lot of opportunity."

Milwaukee Talks: Milwaukee Mile chairman Craig Stoehr


When the Green Bay Packers were competing in the Super Bowl in 1996 and 1997, Oconomowoc native Craig Stoehr was watching the games in Europe, where he was working as a sports promoter.

A decade later, Stoehr (pronounced: stair), a former Wall St. corporate lawyer who has lived and worked in cities like New York, London, Paris, Milan and Istanbul, is the chairman of the Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC, which he operates with assistance from Andrew Randall, the former president of U.S. Bank Wisconsin.

Stoehr's group, which promotes races and will develop land around the storied one-mile oval track on the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, includes about 30 investors – including the man who played nose tackle for those memorable Packers teams, Gilbert Brown.

With two major events slated to take place this weekend at the Mile -- the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night and the NASCAR Busch Series race the following evening, Stoehr – who now lives in downtown Milwaukee -- sat down in a conference room at Milwaukee Mile headquarters in West Allis and talked about his past experiences and his current job in an exclusive Milwaukee Talks interview:

OnMilwaukee.com: Let's start with an unusual but important question: Can you tell me where can you get a strong martini in Milan? And, where I can find the best chicken wing special in Dubai?

Craig Stoehr: Chicken wings in Dubai? Well, the thing about Dubai, I find the food to be very Americanized. You can only have a liquor license if you're a hotel, so all the restaurants are located in resorts and hotels. It's kind of like Las Vegas or Phoenix, with a lot of chain-style restaurants. It's not great for food.

How about this – Istanbul is my favorite place. Go have dinner at Reina. It's right on the Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait), right between Asia and Europe. It's open air. It's like an amphitheatre-style place. It's huge. It's got 10 different restaurants. You've got Turkish food, Italian food, a sushi restaurant. It's all different. Then there is a huge bar in the middle and a huge outdoor dance floor with great music and you're right on the water. It's awesome.

OMC: As a citizen of the world, what drew you back to Milwaukee? Better yet -- how does a guy go from Wisconsin to Istanbul in the first place?

Stoehr: I was born here in West Allis, because my parents had been living here and moved to Oconomowoc when my mom was pregnant. I grew up in Oconomowoc, went to Oconomowoc Senior High School. I went to the University of Minnesota after that. I spent a year between undergrad and law school working as a traveling consultant for my national fraternity. You go fly around the country and ...
OMC: And party like crazy?

Stoehr: There was more to it than that. You advise the chapters on leadership and scholarship programs. You meet with the vice president of student affairs who is in charge of the Greek system, alumni advisory board and this kind of stuff. There was actually some worthwhile stuff, but there also was a lot of partying. But, it was a good thing to take a year off. I got to travel the South, which was my region. I got to go to schools in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and all these places where I probably wouldn't have spent any time. It was interesting. I got to spend six weeks at UCLA, starting a new chapter. It was a good experience.

OMC: What came next?

Stoehr: I did my first year of law school at Marquette and lived at home while I did that. Then, I transferred my second year at Northwestern and graduated from there. I went to New York and worked for a law firm and while I was there I got to work on World Cup '94 and some Major League Soccer stuff, which led me to go to Paris before the 1998 World Cup. I stayed there for 18 months working on a project with Pele, Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio and a bunch of big soccer stars.

From there, I came back to New York for a bit, then to London. This was all working in sports marketing and media related companies. Then, I went to Istanbul and I ran something called the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which is like Formula One or NASCAR, except in the water and in Europe and East Asia.

We had some very good attendances. We would get anywhere from 150,000 to 1 million per race on these harbors. It was pretty exciting, but trying to build the brand globally was a bit of a challenge.

Through that, I made some contacts in Formula One and spent some time with a marketing agency in Dubai. Then, I came here.
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Talkbacks

tommil45 | Jan. 3, 2007 at 1:59 p.m. (report)

The development of a limited service and small hotel on the oval is underestimating the long term needs of a hotel to support the expo center, milwaukee mile and the Fair Park. Other options are available across the street for a high rise structure hotel, enclosed in tiered parking with a crosswalk over Greefield Ave connecting to the expo center. When are people going to look long term and not just be shorchanged by quick ,limited fixes.The board has been fsat talked on this and will lose the opportunity across the street forever. Good Luck

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OMCreader | July 10, 2006 at 9:06 a.m. (report)

Ozlem said: Hi Craig!! Reina is old news, try Ottoman 29 or Supper Club next time!

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OMCreader | June 21, 2006 at 11:03 p.m. (report)

Craig Stoehr said: Reina in Istanbul.

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OMCreader | June 21, 2006 at 2:04 p.m. (report)

Linda said: He's even had deep fried Scorpian in China...

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OMCreader | June 21, 2006 at 7:43 a.m. (report)

Wow said: Craig Stoehr looks like a slightly older Luke Wilson!

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