After two and a half years of construction, officials on Thursday cut the ribbon to the newly expanded Baird Center in Milwaukee. The $465 million expansion project led by Gilbane Building Co. and C.D. Smith Construction doubled the convention center’s size to 1.3 million square feet. Construction took two years, six months and 19 days until the official opening.

The Baird Center, formerly the Wisconsin Center, was expanded and built on a former parking lot after years of planning by the Wisconsin Center District. District officials said the modernized expansion will attract 100,000 more visitors from out of state each year and will stimulate at least $12.6 billion in spending over the next 30 years. The state is expected to get another $150 million in incremental income because of this project.

In 2019, the Wisconsin Legislature voted to back up convention center project completion bonds and later that year the WCD hired CAA ICON as the project owner’s representative, officials said. In December 2019, TVS and EUA won bids to design the expansion and modernization of the four-story building, which nearly doubled the size of the original structure.

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