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Festive mood: Another Summerfest stage to undergo renovations

There’s more big plans for the big gig.

Officials with Milwaukee World Festival Inc., the group in charge of organizing various festivals at Henry Maier Festival Park — including the annual Summerfest — announced plans on Thursday to demolish the existing U.S. Cellular Connection Stage and replace it with an even bigger venue.

According to a news release, the project will include:

  • A newly rebuilt stage that will be completed in time for Summerfest’s 51st festival in 2018;
  • more room for guests and greater ease of getting in and out;
  • a larger performance area and improved amenities that will accommodate performers who are traveling with large amounts of production equipment
  • a 25-foot LED video screen – the largest screen on the grounds;
  • an open-air backstage loft area, which will be used for interviews and meet-and-greet sessions;
  • charging stations around the stage area for electronic devices; and
  • a redesigned bar area.

The newly rebuilt stage will be part of a new 10-year deal between U.S. Cellular and Milwaukee World Festival. The cellular company first joined forces with Summerfest organizers in 2005 when it became a sponsor of the annual music festival.

The current U.S. Cellular Connection Stage was last renovated in 1996. Summerfest officials said the stage has been popular among festival-goers.

The Milwaukee-based firm Eppstein Uhen Architects was selected to design the project.

Thursday’s announcement comes a few months after Summerfest officials made public their plans to give the Miller Lite Oasis stage an overhaul.

That project, also being designed by Eppstein Uhen, will include a redesigned stage facade, a new Miller Lite Brew House bar, video-screen improvements, new bar areas, and a reconfigured marketplace and retail store. Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction is overseeing that project.

The festival grounds also underwent $35 million worth of improvements between 2010 and 2012. That work included a new entrance gate and pavilion, more dining and restrooms and revamped concert venues. Hunzinger and Eppstein Uhen worked on those projects as well.

Since Milwaukee World Festival leases the festival grounds from the Port of Milwaukee, any construction projects planned for that site must be approved by the Board of Harbor Commissioners before they can move forward.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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