By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Apr 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Years ago, in the late 1990s, the Milwaukee Brewers put on a roof top tailgate event at Grand Avenue. The event helped generate support for building Miller Park and served as an easy way for Downtown residents and workers to catch the baseball buzz.  Last summer a similar idea rekindled as explored holding a Downtown viewing party for a Brewers playoff game. Logistics and timing prevented it.

Downtown Milwaukee has many under used (at certain times of the day or night) parking garage rooftops and parking lots that are dying for activity. So, hats off to the Westown Association for acting on ideas (including a Downtown tailgate) to activate a parking lot on 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue.  

Stacie Callies, executive director of the Westown Association, worked hard with the West Wisconsin Ave. committee to push for more activity near the Frontier Airlines Center.

"Based on our track of successful event programming and relationships with stakeholders on the Avenue, the Westown Association was asked by Steve Chernof, who chairs the Westown Wisconsin Avenue Task Force, to assemble a group to discuss event and marketing opportunities on West Wisconsin Avenue," said Callies.

"The Westown Association has been extremely committed to the efforts to redevelop the avenue, so we were excited to help convene this group. With the support of Beth Nicols from Milwaukee Downtown, we developed a group that represented businesses on the street as well as some of the tenants of Grand Avenue's Creativity Works Here program in the Plankinton Arcade," Callies added. More than twenty businesses and organizations participated in the group.

The group felt that there were opportunities for cross promotion of existing events and marketing initiatives, but also for opportunities to use the creativity and resources of the group to brain storm new ways to work together to promote West Wisconsin Avenue.

At the first meeting, the group identified the vacant City-owned parking lot on Fourth and Wisconsin as a good option for holding a public event. Ian Abston, former event coordinator and co-founder of Newaukee, threw out the idea of holding a tailgate party for an away Milwaukee Brewers game in the lot.

And yesterday, the City granted permission for the lot to host an outdoor broadcast of the Brewers vs. Diamondbacks game on May 25. The Downtown tailgate-type event will be organized by the Pabst Theater Foundation the people that coordinate Fish Fry and Flick at Discovery World.

In addition, a June 14 IndyCar event will help promote the Milwaukee Mile Race and be organized by Andretti Sports Marketing Wisconsin and hosted by Marcus Hotels and Resorts. A block party also will accompany this event.

The Downtown lot at 4th and Wisconsin has been the subject of several development opportunities through the years. None, though, have panned out. The surface lot was formerly the home of the Westown Farmer's Market prior to the redevelopment of Zeidler Union Square, so there is a history of holding events in the space.

Other creative summer events, including a possible block party along Wisconsin Avenue with water slides and more, are also in the works. The committee also is developing an idea to hold a large bridge opening party that will include music, food and art vendors.

It will be a celebration to mark the opening of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. This event is slated for the end of July and is being spearheaded by Art Milwaukee with support from the Westown Association.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.