The Milwaukee Bucks' Fiserv Forum had a blockbuster first year. Here are the 14 top events from Year 1.
It cost $524 million to build the Milwaukee Bucks' Fiserv Forum.
In its first year, the city, and the team, really got their money's worth.
Since its grand opening Aug. 26, 2018, the arena hosted an impressive 32 concerts. For some context, the Bradley Center, the Bucks' home court for the past 30 years, never had more than 18 concerts in a single calendar year.
Those 32 concerts don't include four comedy shows — a quantity never held at the Bradley in a 12-month period — nor do they include family or sporting events or Marquette basketball.
And then there were the Bucks, which had a dynamite first year in their new digs, with the best record in the league during the regular season, led by MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer.
Fiserv Forum's second year of operation could be even more momentous, with a highly anticipated Bucks season, at least 11 concerts planned this fall, plus the Democratic National Convention in July.
But before all that happens, let's look back at the 14 most significant concerts and games that happened during Fiserv Forum's first year.
14. Fleetwood Mac (Oct. 28, 2018)
A few veteran acts have been coming to Milwaukee's new building to say goodbye on farewell tours, including Bob Seger, KISS, and on Oct. 19, Elton John. Fleetwood Mac, with one of the most tumultuous histories in rock history, probably should be dead by now as well, and the controversial firing of signature singer, songwriter and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham was highly polarizing. But with new additions Neil Finn and Mike Campbell, Fleetwood Mac truly was like a band reborn at Fiserv Forum, delivering an electric and adventurous show that suggested Fleetwood Mac still had something to prove.
13. J. Balvin (Oct. 11, 2018)
In terms of box office, reggaeton star J. Balvin's Fiserv Forum appearance was clearly a bomb. The tour didn't report sales figures to concert trade publication Pollstar, but only a couple thousand people were in attendance. But Balvin's show was incredibly entertaining, with sharp choreography and playful visuals like dancing dinosaurs. And it was, without question, a milestone: the first tour performed entirely in Spanish to come to a Milwaukee arena. It won't be the last: Mariachi group Banda MS plays Fiserv Forum Nov. 1.
12. Marquette outlasts Wisconsin in OT (Dec. 8, 2018)
Facing the No. 12-ranked team for a second straight week (having upset Kansas State at Fiserv Forum one week earlier), the Marquette men's basketball team clawed its way to a 79-68 win over the University of Wisconsin in overtime. Ethan Happ scored 34 points for Wisconsin, but Marquette got big baskets from Joey Hauser in overtime, Markus Howard scored 27 points and Sam Hauser finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Both teams finished their year as NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Howard scored 45 points in two home contests, against Kansas State and Buffalo.
11. Carrie Underwood (June 20, 2019)
Fiserv Forum has brought in Chris Young and Dan + Shay, a two-night Eric Church residency, and this Oct. 18, Miranda Lambert. But the biggest country star of all to play the arena so far was Carrie Underwood. She certainly brought the biggest production, wrote Erik Ernst in a review for the Journal Sentinel, but "all the technical wonders that modified the stage for each song seemed like they were just trying to keep up with her remarkable talents."
10. A wild sports night in Milwaukee (Oct. 19, 2018)
If we're being honest, Milwaukee's 118-101 win over the Indiana Pacers was a fairly unremarkable showing on the court, but it represented a new era in the context of a wild night in Milwaukee athletics. The first Bucks game at Fiserv Forum gave fans their first glimpse of the venue in action, and perhaps some of those fans were also keeping an eye on their phones to see what was going on at Miller Park. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2, to force a seventh and final game in the National League Championship Series — the farthest Milwaukee had gotten since 1982. The Brewers' season came to an end the next day, but we didn't know then that the Bucks were headed for the same destination, one series shy of the league's finals. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who knows about the highest tiers of the postseason, was in attendance to help kick off the Fiserv Forum era, as was NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
9. Ariana Grande (July 5, 2019)
Of all the A-listers who have played Fiserv Forum so far — including Cher, Shawn Mendes and John Mayer — no one is a more central presence in the pop-culture universe right now than Ariana Grande, who affirmed her superstar status with polished performances of zeitgeist-seizing singles like "Thank U, Next" for a packed, passionate crowd.
8. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals (May 23, 2019)
The outcome certainly wasn't what anyone in Milwaukee wanted, ending with the air out of the balloon on the Bucks' postseason and a 105-99 loss that put the Bucks season on death's door. Two days later, it was over. But the moment in time was still a thrill, with a ravenous crowd trying to will the Bucks to victory in a series tied at two games apiece coming into the night. Perhaps the most lasting memory will be a chugging contest between Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his top lineman, David Bakhtiari, that ended with Rodgers finding himself squarely in the meme-verse.
7. Travis Scott (Feb. 22, 2019)
Milwaukee went without a hip-hop arena tour for 16 years until Travis Scott stormed Fiserv Forum behind his blockbuster album "Astroworld," with a pyro-packed, theme park-inspired stage show to match. Some fans were even able to strap into some rides. The wait wasn't nearly so long for more arena-level hip-hop in town, with rap legend Nas co-headlining Fiserv Forum with Mary J. Blige in July, and Chance the Rapper playing the arena this October.
6. Pink (May 2, 2019)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a pop star who puts as much into a performance as Pink, who literally flew to new heights at Fiserv Forum, conducting jaw-dropping acrobatics, flying through the arena, and delivering soaring vocals throughout it all. Pink's show also featured Milwaukee-born DJ KidCutUp — Mayor Tom Barrett showed up during his first set to proclaim it "KidCutUp Day" in the city. And Pink's other opener, Julia Michaels, who opened for Maroon 5 at Fiserv Forum last fall, became the first artist to play the new arena twice.
5. The Killers and Violent Femmes (Sept. 4, 2018)
You can only make a first impression once, and the Bucks made sure it was a good one. Fittingly, one of Milwaukee's most accomplished bands, Violent Femmes, was the first act to perform in the building, with the Killers stuffing their set with hits and special touches, like Alice Cooper riffing off his famous Milwaukee scene from "Wayne's World" during an opening video introduction, and a "Laverne & Shirley" theme song cover with the Femmes for the finale. As good as the show was, though, the building itself was the star, wowing with sharp acoustics, handsome interior design and not a bad seat in the place.
4. Justin Timberlake (Sept. 21, 2018)
Fiserv Forum's first 30 days of operation featured comedians Kevin Hart and Jim Gaffigan and pop-radio staple Maroon 5. But the most significant booking of the month, if not Fiserv Forum's first 12 months, was Justin Timberlake, who returned to Milwaukee for the first time in 15 years, with a dazzling stage set-up, and Timberlake's sharp showmanship to match — although the concert's most memorable moment has to be the die-hard Packers fan's toast to "the greatest football team on planet Earth." One fan was even considerate enough to give Timberlake a Packers jersey onesie for his son Silas.
3. The Giannis MVP celebration (July 14, 2019)
It didn't happen precisely inside Fiserv Forum, but it seemed half of Milwaukee turned out to be part of a celebration for Giannis Antetokounmpo, back in town for the first time since he was named the 2019 NBA MVP in late June. With a new signature Nike shoe to his name, Giannis nonetheless emphasized the excitement to come. "I work my butt off every single day. I do it for you guys, I do it for my team, I do it for my teammates," he said. The event took place on the plaza outside the building that has been termed "Deer District," which has risen to prominence right alongside the arena itself as a hot spot for big events, including TNT's pregame and postgame broadcasts during the Eastern Conference Finals.
2. Metallica (Oct. 16, 2018)
Fiserv Forum will probably never have a five-day stretch like the one from last October, with Foo Fighters, the Eagles and Twenty One Pilots all coming through, and the Bucks kicking off their inaugural Fiserv Forum season. It all began with Metallica illustrating why they're the mightiest band in metal history, rocking hard from a small, boxing ring-style stage in the center of the floor, freeing up every inch possible for fans to pack the place, and creating a concert attendance record at the arena that's going to be pretty hard to top. (Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins were also in Milwaukee a day early to check out the rock gods.)
1. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals (May 8, 2019)
After a regular season that lacked much drama as the Bucks soared their way to 60 wins and the playoffs, the first true stress test came in the team's conference-semifinal series with Boston, when the Bucks dropped Game 1, 112-90. But Milwaukee won the next four games, capped off with a resounding Game 5 victory, 116-91, that gave Milwaukee fans their first visit to the conference finals since 2001. It was a representation of the Bucks at their best and an affirming moment for the presence of the 2018-'19 Bucks team in history. It also came with an entertaining dose of vengeance, with the famous words of ESPN personality Paul Pierce played on the video board immediately after the win — his doubts that the Bucks had a chance after suffering a Game 1 loss.
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