By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is the new sponsor and partner of the Milwaukee Arena (formerly the U.S. Cellular Arena), the 12,700-seat facility owned and operated by the Wisconsin Center District (WCD).

The arena is being renamed the "UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena," effective today.

The renaming of the arena – which is also the home of the Milwaukee Wave and Brewcity Bruisers – is part of a broad 10-year partnership agreement between UW-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Center District that includes the naming rights to the facility and a long-term Downtown home for the UWM Panthers men's basketball team.

A key provision of the new partnership agreement is a plan for UWM to begin hosting concerts and other programming in the arena, including national speakers. 

"Having UWM's name on the Downtown arena is an important symbol of our deep commitment to the City of Milwaukee and the entire region," said Interim Chancellor Mark Mone.  Mone added that the partnership agreement will also raise UWM's visibility among prospective students and their families.

Mone emphasized that no tax dollars will be used for this marketing and sponsorship initiative. The program will be financed with money from the UWM Foundation and funds generated by non-academic programming at the university.

About a year ago, UWM and WCD announced that the Arena would once again be home for the UWM men’s basketball program. At that time, the agreement marked the return of the Panthers to the arena, after the program was moved to UWM’s Klotsche Center for the 2012-13 season.

"We are pleased that UWM has agreed to further partner with us in this long-term agreement," said Franklyn M. Gimbel, Chairman of the Wisconsin Center District. "This partnership will benefit both of our organizations and the downtown Milwaukee community as a whole."

Terms of the agreement were not announced. 

The new arena name was announced this afternoon at a small press event held at the former U.S. Cellular Arena. There, WCD and UWM representatives – including Mone, athletic director Amanda Braun and men's basketball coach Rob Jeter – revealed photos of the building's new look (no photos were available, but new black and gold seats were mentioned) and discussed the potential benefits of the new affiliation.

Gimbel was also asked about the future of the newly named UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, firmly noting that he would oppose any and all efforts to tear down the Milwaukee Arena with the talk surrounding the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Milwaukee Bucks and the viability of having potentially three similar venues in the same area.

"It is my hope and my expectation that a method will be found to build a new arena in Milwaukee to be the future home of the Milwaukee Bucks and also the home of Marquette and also the home of the Milwaukee Admirals," Gimbel said.

"I think that this venue has the kind of unique characteristics for fan appreciation of the events that play here that would not transfer easily to the Bradley Center. In my personal view – only in my personal view – I don't see that building as having future viability when and if another arena is built."