Sports in Milwaukee
Milwaukee has a rich history of involvement in professional and sports, going back to the 19th century. Currently, its major sports teams include:
Throughout the sports world, Milwaukee is perhaps best known for its tradition of tailgating before Brewers baseball games. The Brewers made their first post-season appearance in 1981 and won the American League pennant in 1982. In 1998, they became the only Major League team in history to switch leagues, doing so to accommodate the expansion franchises of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They also have the distinction of being the only team to have played in four of the six current Major League divisions.
The Bucks won the 1971 NBA Championship, a mere three years after joining the league. They made it back to the Finals in 1974, but soon developed a reputation as "next year's champions," winning at least one playoff series for the next 15 years, but still having yet to return to the Finals.
The Wave are the longest continuously-running professional soccer operation in North America. They have also been one of the most successful, having captured five league championships in the past nine years.
An interesting note; the Milwaukee Admirals ice hockey club is a feeder team for the Nashville Predators, and Nashville's minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, is the farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers. Both the Admirals and Sounds are the top-level minor league affiliate.
in addition to professional sports, Milwaukee is home to a number of competitive teams, clubs and leagues at the amateur, college, high school and semi-pro levels.
|School||Nickname||Division||Conference(s)||Varsity Sports Teams|
|Marquette University||Golden Eagles||NCAA Division I||Big East Conference||11|
|University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
|Panthers||NCAA Division I||Horizon League||15|
|Milwaukee School of Engineering
|Red Raiders||NCAA Division III||Midwest Collegiate Hockey Conference,||19 |
|Cardinal Stritch University||Wolves||NAIA||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference||10|
|Alverno College||Inferno||NCAA Division III||Northern Athletics Conference||5|
|Wisconsin Lutheran College||Warriors||NCAA Division III||Northern Athletics Conference||14|
Under the leadership of Al McGuire, Marquette's men's basketball team became a national powerhouse in the 1970s, capturing the NIT Championship in 1970, and the NCAA Championship in 1977. Not only was the '77 championship McGuire's last game, but Marquette remains the last independent school to win the title. It is also the last major sports championship won by a Milwaukee sports team.
UW–Milwaukee made its first post-season appearance in men's basketball that same year, under the tutelage of current Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. Although they lost at the buzzer to Notre Dame in the first round, they would make their first NIT appearance the following year. In 2005, UWM had its most successful year ever, winning both the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships. They would go on to upset Alabama in the first round of the NCAA tournament before shocking then Big East powerhouse Boston College on its way to the Sweet 16. So much of an impression had the team made that sportswriters shied away from calling their defeat of sixth-seeded Oklahoma in the 2006 Tournament an "upset," believing UWM may have actually been the better team.
Starting with the 2007-08 season, the Marquette and UWM men's basketball teams will rekindle their annual rivalry game which has been dormant since 1998. The two schools have always shared annual and heated rivalries in all other common NCAA sports.
UWM's men's and women's soccer teams regularly attain national rankings, and the school is also home to the only Division I baseball team in Wisconsin.
High School athletics in Milwaukee is dominated by the Milwaukee City Conference. However, it is also home to a number of athletically competitive private (mainly Catholic high schools such as Marquette University High School, which has the city's only WIAA sanctioned ice hockey team.
While the City Conference schools are quite competitive in basketball, track & field and other sports with low costs of maintenance, it has been noted that the schools' collective lack of funds and facilities puts it at a distinct disadvantage in sports such as football. Problems such as only four of the schools having on-campus stadiums are believed to be a major reason why City Conference schools have been absent from the WIAA State Championship Game since 1986 (a 28-20 Bradley Tech loss to Manitowoc). As a result, many of the city's more talented prep football players either attend private schools on scholarships and vouchers, or suburban schools through school choice programs such as Chapter 220.
The City Conference is considered to be the toughest league in Wisconsin for boy's basketball. Its teams have appeared in 21 of the past 24 WIAA Division 1 Championship Games, winning the title in 14 of them.
City Conference Alumni include Michael Bennett (Football, Track & Field/Bradley Tech), "Downtown" Freddie Brown (Basketball/Lincoln), Terry Porter (Basketball/South Division) and Latrell Sprewell (Basketball/Washington).
|Milwaukee Bavarians||Soccer||1929||National Premier Soccer League||Bavarian Soccer Club|
|Milwaukee Bombers||Australian Rules Football||1994||Mid American Australian Football League||Brown Deer Park|
The Milwaukee Bavarians/Bavarian Soccer Club is one of the oldest and most successful amateur soccer clubs in the United States, having captured the National Amateur Cup on two occasions. They play at the fourth level of the American Soccer Pyramid.
The Milwaukee suburb of West Allis is home to the Milwaukee Mile auto racing facility, the world's oldest active auto race track, located on the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. The track has held events sanctioned by major sanctioning bodies, such as the American Automobile Association, USAC, NASCAR, Champ Car World Series (or CART), and the Indy Racing League.
Milwaukee is also home to the Pettit National Ice Center, a U.S. Olympic Team training facility, which has been the training site for gold-medal winning speedskaters such as Dan Jansen, Bonnie Blair and Shani Davis.
Milwaukee was a stronghold of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) during pro wrestling's territorial days. Shows run from The MECCA (Auditorium and Arena) drew large crowds of people who came to see the tag team of former Green Bay Packers lineman Dick "The Bruiser" Afflis and South Milwaukee native Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski.
Vince McMahon's WWF (later known as World Wrestling Entertainment; now known as WWE) began running shows from The MECCA in the late 1980s leading to Milwaukee being home to some important moments in that promotion's history. Most famously, it is the birthplace of "Stone Cold Steve Austin's "Austin 3:16" catchphrase.
WWE continues to run shows (including pay-per-views) in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center. Insane Championship Wrestling, a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, also runs shows at smaller venues in the city, usually once a month.
A recent addition to Milwaukee's sports scene is Women's Roller Derby. Since 2005 Milwaukee has been home to the Brew City Bruisers, a Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Roller Derby league. The league has four skater-owned and operated teams: Crazy Eights, Maiden Milwaukee, Rushin' Rollettes, and Shevil Knevils. The teams compete in events locally at the US Cellular Arena, and the BCB's Travel Team competes in national league events throughout the United States.
Milwaukee is home to a variety of competitive road running events. The largest is Al's Run, an annual fund-raiser for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin run in honor of Al McGuire. The race draws large numbers of the participants, regularly exceeding 15,000. 
The city is also the finishing point for the Lakefront Marathon, which begins in Grafton, Wisconsin and is run along Lake Michigan until the finish at Milwaukee's Veterans Park. The Guinness World Record for “most people linked together to complete a marathon” with 62 roped-together runners, was set at Milwaukee’s 2011 Lakefront Marathon. Team Jennipede competed on behalf of elite marathoner Jenny Crain, raising over $116,000 for Crain’s rehabilitation from injuries suffered when a car hit her during a training run in Milwaukee street on Aug. 27, 2007.
In addition, many paths have been paved in recent years for runners and joggers in the city's parks along Lake Michigan as well as the Hank Aaron State Trail, adjacent to Miller Park in the Menomonee Valley.
Previously, numerous other teams have played in Milwaukee, including:
The early 20th century Milwaukee Brewers's time in the American League predates the league's evolution into a major league, going back to the 19th century to its predecessors, the Western Association and Western League. The minor league Milwaukee Brewers was not directly connected to the older team. In fact, there was concern at the time about the prospect of both teams simultaneously playing in 1901 or 1902. It should also be noted that the 19th century baseball teams in Milwaukee were interchangeably referred to as the Cream Citys, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Greys or Milwaukee Unions. This was common during the time as most teams did not have official names and rather adopted names which reporters assigned to them. The table lists the most common name used for each particular team.
Milwaukee is the only major-league city that was never home to a North American Soccer League franchise. However, Milwaukee County Stadium was host to a number of exhibition games of the Chicago Sting, which had planned a permanent move (that never materialized) to the ballpark.. The city has since proven itself to be a viable soccer market, as the Wave were founded in 1984 (the same year the NASL folded) and have been active ever since.
Green Bay Packers in Milwaukee
The Green Bay Packers played a portion of their home schedule in Milwaukee on a regular basis from the 1930s until 1994 in the following locations:
- Borchert Field, 1933
- Wisconsin State Fair Park, 1934–51
- Marquette Stadium, 1952
- Milwaukee County Stadium, 1953–1994
The first Milwaukee game was played on December 3, 1922, against the Racine Legion. The 1939 Championship between the Packers and the New York Giants was played at State Fair Park in what is currently known as the Milwaukee Mile. The Packers won, 27-0. A 1931 championship against the Portsmouth Spartans was also scheduled for Milwaukee, but was called off. The Packers final post-season game in Milwaukee was a 1967 divisional playoff against the Los Angeles Rams which the Packers won convincingly 28-7. They went on to capture their last NFL Championship and Super Bowl victory under Vince Lombardi.
The Packers played their final game at County Stadium on December 18, 1994, against the Atlanta Falcons. Although the Packers no longer play in Milwaukee, many residents still consider them a Milwaukee team, held in higher regard than the Bucks and Brewers. In spite of no longer playing games in the city, the Packers flagship newspaper and radio have remained the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee-based WTMJ-AM, respectively.
The Packers maintain two separate season ticket plans, reflecting their time spent in Milwaukee: Gold package holders, made up largely of former Milwaukee season ticket holders, have a three-game package consisting of the annual Midwest Shrine preseason contest plus the second and fifth regular-season home games each year; Green package holders (made up of original Green Bay ticket holders) attend the annual Bishop's Charities preseason game and the remaining six regular-season contests.
Major League Soccer in Milwaukee
Peter Wilt, the former General Manager of the Chicago Fire is attempting to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team (or relocate an existing team) to Milwaukee for the 2009 season due to the popularity of the Wave and the city's growing Hispanic population. As of July 2007, Milwaukee MLS lead organizer and Milwaukee sports lawyer, Marty Greenberg, announced his last-ditch effort proposal, one that involves transforming a portion of the Milwaukee Mile grandstand and infield into a soccer stadium utilizing a moveable field and additional seating sections, allowing the venue to be convertible for auto racing and soccer. According to Peter Wilt, the stadium/field would not be in the middle of the infield (except on race days). On game days, the field would be flush against the main grandstand with 10k additional seats surrounding the field, which would move in and out to allow racing similar to the Arizona Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium. In addition, the fence separating the main grandstand and the track would come down and the field would be elevated above the track, it would also have a canopy roof over most of the main sideline seats, 20+ luxury suites, a field view stadium club, center entrance player tunnel, new permanent hospitality, concession, restroom and merchandise and locker room facilities. Regarding the priority usage, the Milwaukee Mile currently only hosts three major races a year. Regarding the economics, the construction costs would be a fraction of building a stadium from scratch (roughly $40 million), there are no real estate taxes on state property, there is more than enough parking and there are other economic incentives involved that would not include any new taxes, regarding location, the site borders the city of Milwaukee’s west side, is two miles west of Miller Park, six miles west of downtown, about two miles east of the geographic center of the metropolitan market, is accessible by public transportation, is on the busiest interstate highway section in the state and has two highway exits within half a mile, regarding quality of stadium, as stated above, it will feel more intimate than Toyota Park or BMO Field. The Milwaukee Mile would benefit from usage of suites, club seats and other hospitality areas for its events and potentially a rental fee that would be less than the Fire pays the VOB. Team would benefit economically from retention of stadium sponsorship, parking, merchandise and concessions from its events and other revenue streams that can’t be disclosed at this time.
- Lowry, Philip J. (1986). Green Cathedrals. Society for American Baseball Research. ISBN 0-910137-21-8. "They have the best bratwurst and the best tailgate parties in all of baseball here."
- BCB website
- Held, Tom. "It's official. Team running for Jenny Crain secures Guinness Record in Lakefront Marathon".