Visit Milwaukee Launches Merchandise, Unveils New Sports Milwaukee Logo, and Announces 2024 Award Winners at June 18 Annual Meeting

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MILWAUKEE (June 18, 2024) – Today, Visit Milwaukee [3] celebrated the
impact of tourism at its annual meeting, capping off yet another
record-breaking year for the industry. Throughout the meeting, the
destination management organization unveiled a number of exciting new
developments and projects that will continue to propel the city forward
during a historic 2024. Announcements included a new merch line, a
reimagined Sports Milwaukee logo and awards recognizing Milwaukeeans who
are making a difference in the community.

Visit Milwaukee Launches Merch Line
Today Visit Milwaukee launched a line of company-branded merchandise
with Milwaukee’s own Reyes Retail [4]. In tandem with the organization’s
new brand, the new product line positions Milwaukee as a lifestyle
brand, striving to build visitor affinity and stoke local pride with a
series of stylish hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and more that capture the
essence of the city. The new product line is available for purchase
starting today at shop.visitmilwaukee.org [5].

Sports Milwaukee Unveils New Logo
Kicking off a new era for Sports Milwaukee [6]—the sports division of
Visit Milwaukee designed to attract, promote and bolster youth, amateur
and professional sporting events in the Greater Milwaukee
area—launched its new brand this afternoon. In alignment with the
Visit Milwaukee rebrand that was unveiled in April, the Sports Milwaukee
brand features a cohesive look and feel, a nod to Sports Milwaukee’s
seamless sports planner experience from booking to execution, while
maintaining its own identity with an exclusive color palate.

Stepping into the Sports Milwaukee starting lineup later this week, the
sports division of Visit Milwaukee also announced an addition to Visit
Milwaukee’s stable of successful newsletters with the 3on3 Fast Break
[7]. The new monthly newsletter is a game-changer for Sports Milwaukee,
delivering the biggest wins and breaking sports news happening around
Milwaukee directly to sports planners, key stakeholders and interested
subscribers.

Visit Milwaukee Celebrates the Impact of Tourism
At the heart of the annual meeting, Visit Milwaukee celebrated another
watershed year in the travel and tourism industry in Milwaukee County,
the Greater Milwaukee area and Wisconsin. According to data from the
Wisconsin Department of Tourism, in 2023, the Greater Milwaukee area
also set an all-time spending record with an economic impact of over
$6.3 billion in 2023, growing by more than $358 million year-over-year
and maintaining the four-county area’s place as the No. 1 contributor to
Wisconsin’s tourism economy, accounting for 25.5% of all tourism
spending in the state.

In Milwaukee County alone, direct visitor spending grew 6.4%
year-over-year, surpassing the domestic inflation rate by 2% and
contributing $2.342 billion to the local economy. Alongside direct
visitor spending, tourism in Milwaukee County raised over $231 million
in state and local taxes, supported over 27,000 jobs and generated over
$4.1 billion in total economic impact. To discover the impact of tourism
and the transformational economic impact visitation generates for our
community, visit the Tourism Insights [8] page on the Visit Milwaukee
website.

Visit Milwaukee also recognized the city’s hospitality community, which
makes Milwaukee a warm, welcoming and accessible destination during this
year’s annual meeting. The visitor’s bureau presented six awards to
locals and organizations, spotlighting their impact in the Milwaukee
community and efforts to raise the profile of the destination
nationally.

DearMKE Award
This year’s DearMKE Award was presented to Dan Jacobs of DanDan and
Ester Ev. The award recognizes a local small business that has captured
Milwaukeeans’ affection and succeeded in attracting attention to our
community on a national or international level. Showcasing his culinary
prowess on the popular American culinary TV show, Bravo’s “Top Chef:
Wisconsin,” Dan shared his love for Milwaukee while raising the profile
of the city’s sensational dining scene in front of a national audience.

Milwaukee Magnet Award
This year, the Milwaukee Magnet Award was presented to two Milwaukee
businesses: Baird Center and Potawatomi Casino | Hotel. An award
designated for a company or organization that is drawing dollars and
talent to our community, the Milwaukee Magnet Award recognizes their
leadership and commitment to long-term economic investment in the
Milwaukee region.

With the opening of the $456 million expansion to Baird Center, the
Wisconsin Center District transformed Milwaukee into an elite
destination for meetings and conventions. More than doubling the size of
the convention center to 1.3 million square feet, with 300,000
contiguous square feet of exhibition space, Baird Center unlocks
Milwaukee’s potential to host even bigger events in the years to come.

One of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, Potawatomi Casino |
Hotel, completed the final phase of its $190 million expansion project,
spanning 114,000 square feet. Earlier this year, the casino opened
Milwaukee’s first Sportsbook. The casino added Rock & Brews Restaurant,
owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, a new Cream City Coffee
Co. café, 600 new slots, a VIP club, and so much more, completely
reimagining the visitor experience.

Joe Bartolotta Hospitality Award
The Joe Bartolotta Hospitality Award was presented to Paul Bartolotta of
the Bartolotta Restaurants and Theresa Nemetz of Milwaukee Food & City
Tours and Great Lakes Excursions. This award recognizes individuals in
the hospitality industry who have demonstrated exemplary commitment and
passion for Milwaukee and its residents through initiatives that uplift
the community.  

With this recognition, Paul Bartolotta takes home the award that bears
his late brother, and business partner’s name. Joe Bartolotta was an
integral part of the Milwaukee hospitality community and a co-founder of
The Bartolotta Restaurant before his passing in 2019. Over the past 30
years, Paul and his brother Joe helped define Milwaukee’s culinary
scene, developing a collection of award-winning restaurants throughout
the Greater Milwaukee area. Paul also played a central role in bringing
Bravo’s “Top Chef” to Milwaukee, putting the city’s culinary scene and
Milwaukee as a leisure destination on the national stage.

Another instrumental member of the community in highlighting the city’s
dining scene for more than 16 years, Theresa Nemetz has showcased the
very best bites Milwaukee has to offer with her company, Milwaukee Food
& City Tours. Offering visitors and locals tours of iconic landmarks,
breweries and more, Theresa’s passion for Milwaukee now extends beyond
the shores of Lake Michigan to visitors who are disembarking Great Lakes
cruises. Great Lakes Excursions offers passengers unique,
only-in-Milwaukee experiences.

The Heart of Milwaukee Award
The Heart of Milwaukee award was presented to Hyatt Regency bellman JR
Tate. The Heart of Milwaukee award recognizes a frontline worker who has
gone above and beyond in their efforts to welcome Visitors to Milwaukee.
The bellman at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee hotel for over 43 years, JR
has been an invaluable ambassador for our city on the frontlines for
more than four decades. He has welcomed countless visitors during his
time with the Hyatt Regency, ensuring they have the best possible
experience in Milwaukee.

About Visit Milwaukee
Visit Milwaukee creates economic impact and supports a stronger, more
inclusive community by promoting the Greater Milwaukee area as a premier
tourism destination. Strengthened by Visit Milwaukee’s dynamic
convention and leisure marketing initiatives, tourism to Milwaukee
contributes $6.388 billion to the local economy, supporting nearly
44,000 hospitality employees. Visit Milwaukee has over 900 members,
including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services, and area
businesses. The Wisconsin Center District, with its recently completed
$456 million Baird Center expansion, the city of Wauwatosa, and
Potawatomi Casino | Hotel are strategic partners with Visit Milwaukee,
providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more
information call (800) 554-1448 or visit www.visitmilwaukee.org [9].

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