Summary List Placement
Even Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin couldn’t have imagined this.
When Feigin helped lead the Bucks through the development of their new arena, Fiserv Forum, and its surrounding 30-acre plaza, he did imagine active game days — fans shopping, dining at the surrounding restaurants, gathering to cheer on the Bucks.
But he can’t say he imagined the 20,000-plus crowds outside of Fiserv Forum, making up what is now known as the “Deer District,” rooting for a Bucks team one win away from a championship.
“I’d like to lie to you and say, you know, ‘Hey, the master plan is working,’ but I think this is really beyond expectations,'” Feigin told Insider on Thursday, ahead of a potential championship-clinching Game 6 for the Bucks.
— Deer District (@DeerDistrict) July 18, 2021
During Game 5 of the Finals, played in Phoenix, Arizona, Deer District drew over 35,000 people.
— DJ Shawna (@DJShawna) July 18, 2021
Feigin confirmed that the Bucks are making space to accommodate up to 65,000 fans for Game 6. The massive turnout has come with logistical challenges, like creating more space for those crowds, bringing in more security, water stations, and Port-a-Johns.
“Insane numbers,” Feigin said of the expansion of the Deer District.
Feigin said he’s not sure he has seen an equivalent in pro sports.
“I’ve been trying to kind of just casually look throughout different pro sports and events and kind of what’s happened over periods of time. I think in Toronto, like, a city of nine or 10 million people, you’ve had ‘Jurassic Park,’ which has done maybe 10, maybe 20,000 people, which is fantastic and everything,” Feigin said. “But if you think on a kind of a scale of a state like Wisconsin and a city like Milwaukee, kind of entertaining upwards of 50,000 people for playoff games, NBA Finals games, it’s kind of incredible.”
Feigin said that the team has suggested people use masks and try to stay physically distanced. He noted that while Milwaukee is in a good spot in terms of COVID-19, the team is wary of the highly contagious Delta variant. (Videos and photos of Deer District suggest most fans haven’t taken those recommendations).
The massive crowds flooding the Deer District have even forced Bucks leadership to reimagine what could be done with the surrounding area.
“It’s kind of gotten us to kind of reimagine what the possibilities are,” Feigin said. “Like why we can’t start thinking of this district as places to do festivals and do larger events and kind of use it in maybe a little bit different ways than we had originally thought.”
Feigin said he hopes the crowds continue to be safe, happy, and well-behaved on Thursday if the Bucks win the championship.
The Bucks were a burgeoning playoff team when Fiserv Forum was under construction. Their run to the Finals has now helped transform a community, Feigin says.
“I think it’s become like a really safe, cool, great place to hang out and kind of be part of the community and celebrate together … It’s transformational for the city in such a big way.”