By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 18, 2022 at 9:27 AM

The Wisconsin Center District’s Board of Directors has approved a five-year deal that allows the Pabst Theater Group to book and operate all the public ticketed events in the Miller High Life Theater.

The theater, formerly the Milwaukee Auditorium, seats 4,087 and has been operated by the district.

The transition will begin immediately and is expected to be complete by July 31.

All currently scheduled shows will continue as planned.

“When our industry was abruptly and completely shut down by the pandemic, it showed us and everyone else just how important live entertainment is not only to its fans, but also to the economic health and imaging of our city,” said Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, in a statement Friday.

“Part of our mission as an almost 20-year old Milwaukee company is to make sure that the city around us thrives. And with that, the common goal in our agreement with our friends at the Wisconsin Center District is as we have done in the past with each of the venues that are now a part of the Pabst Theater Group, to reawaken and help to give a soul and identity to another historic and beautiful venue, the Miller High Life Theatre.”

As part of the deal, the Wisconsin Center District – which also operates the convention center and the UWM Panther Arena – maintains naming rights and sponsorship opportunities and rights to book meetings and conventions into the Miller High Life Theatre.

“The purpose of this agreement is to align with an entity that delivers best-in-class guest experiences and promoter partnerships; showcases a dedication to the city of Milwaukee; and increases the activity of the Miller High Life Theatre without compromising the Wisconsin Center District’s ability to maximize the space for our core meetings and conventions business,” said Marty Brooks, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District Friday.

“Our goal for the Miller High Life Theatre is to maximize activity. We have been talking with a variety of promoters for years, and now is the right time as demand for live-events ramps up and we focus on the continued progress of convention center expansion, set for completion in early 2024.”

The Pabst Theater Group operates the Pabst and Riverside Theaters and Turner Hall Ballroom and the Back Room at Colectivo. It is also working to book performances at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Bradley Concert Center.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.