Fireworks explode over Fiserv Forum after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship early Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Fireworks explode over Fiserv Forum after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship early Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Hundreds of thousands of people from Milwaukee and beyond spent millions as the Bucks made their way through the NBA Playoffs.

The NBA Playoffs brought Milwaukee $57.6 million in economic impact as the Milwaukee Bucks played their way to their first NBA Championship title in 50 years, according to an estimate released Monday by the city’s tourism bureau.

The recent consumer spending and broader success the Fiserv Forum has experienced since its 2018 opening vindicates a bipartisan group of state lawmakers’ decision to invest in Milwaukee and provide millions in state funding for the Forum in 2015, when the state came close to losing the Bucks to Seattle.

As the Bucks’ playoff run went further and further and fans packed the Deer District and downtown, the economic impact increased substantially. The NBA Finals, played July 6-20 against the Phoenix Suns, brought in $28 million alone, according to VISIT Milwaukee, while the first three playoffs rounds brought in $2.7 million, $12.8 million, and $14.1 million.

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“We’re incredibly grateful that the Milwaukee Bucks’ fantastic run brought a vital boost to our economy,” VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said in a statement. “These dollars pumped much-needed life into many of the businesses that struggled the most during the pandemic, and they helped support thousands of jobs. I’m now hoping our beloved Milwaukee Brewers’ and their forthcoming post-season can do the same.”

By the end of the playoffs, as many as 100,000 fans packed the Deer District, bringing with them money for food, drink, lodging, and transportation. 

VISIT Milwaukee did not provide an estimate for economic activity generated by the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up to the Bucks’ championship parade in downtown Milwaukee.

The massive influx of revenue came after the coronavirus pandemic had brought the area around Fiserv Forum to a standstill and led to the downsizing and virtual cancellation of the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC), which was anticipated to bring in 50,000 visitors itself.

The Fiserv Forum and Deer District’s success was anything but a given just a few years ago, when state lawmakers toiled over the Fiserv Forum bill that kept the Bucks in Milwaukee. There were proponents and opponents on both sides of the aisle.

“I’m glad I helped land this gem in Milwaukee,” former state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) wrote Monday on Facebook after VISIT Milwaukee released its estimate. “The people working here make good wages, it brings a lot of revenue to the state, and, but for the pandemic, we would have had the DNC.”