MUSIC - Kryptonite by 3 doors down
U.S. Cellular Arena - Opened in 1950 and is still in use. Known as the Milwaukee Arena 1950 - 1974, the MECCA 1974 - 1995, Wisconsin Center Arena (Milwaukee Arena) 1995 - 2000, U.S. Cellular Arena 2000 - present.
Location - 400 W. Kilbourn Ave. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The red brick building at the corner of 4th and Kilbourn has been known by a variety of names. It started out with the original Milwaukee arena, to the most well known name, the Mecca, and to the name it retains today, the US cellular arena. The arena has a small town charm to it. Nothing fancy here. Just a place where Wisconsinites could spend an evening watching hockey, basketball, concerts and even the circus. The Mecca has been a staple for over 57 years now, and has no signs of slowing down.
Built in 1950, it was the home court for the transplanted Milwaukee Hawks of the NBA. They played here from 51 thru the 55 season, before they flew the coop to St. Louis. The NBA would not return to the Mecca until 1968, when the expansion Milwaukee Bucks were born. Good fortune would follow the Bucks for the 1969 season, when they won a coin flip with the Phoenix Suns to win the rights to draft Lew Alcindor AKA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With Jabbar at center, the Bucks won their only worlds championship in 1971. The Bucks would play at the Mecca thru the 1988 season.
The other "main" tenants for the Mecca have been the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL, the Marquette Warriors, and the Milwaukee Wave of the MISL.
The Mecca was antiquated, and lacked all the modern conveniences of other newer arenas. In 1988 the Bradley center opened up. It was literally a stones throw from the Mecca. Immediately both the Bucks and the Admirals moved in. The Mecca seemed doomed to the wreckers ball. It sat basically unused, except for the odd small concert or trade show, for almost 10 years. A major renovation took place in 1998. New locker rooms, concession stands, lighting, scoreboards and sound system brought the old girl back to life. The Mecca is now part of the Wisconsin Center District, which also has the Milwaukee convention center.
The Mecca, or US cellular arena as it is now called, is now the home court for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee mens basketball team. In 2008, the Milwaukee Bonecrushers of the Continental indoor football league will begin play in the arena.
After SOOOO many stadiums and arenas have fallen to the wreckers ball, it is nice to see one saved. The Mecca isn't fancy, but it is cozy. It has great sight lines and great acoustics for concerts. Italian tenor, the late Luciano Pavarotti, loved singing in the arena. So did Neil Diamond, along with a host of others. Here is to the City of Milwaukee who got it right and saved a wonderful building from the wreckers ball. Long may the Mecca stand.
The front of the Mecca arena from the corner of 4th and Kilbourn. 9/95
The same view, only 9 years earlier. You can see to the right of the Mecca, the Bradley Center being built. 3/87
The main entrance off Kilbourn. 3/87
The Mecca in the 50's. This is a photo that my Uncle took.
Another photo of the Mecca in the 50's from my Uncle.
Inside the Mecca for a Bucks, Knicks game. 3/87
You can see the cozy interior of the Mecca without the luxury suites. 3/87
Bucks greats Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson ran up and down the floor of the Mecca. 3/87
The Mecca before tipoff. Small and quaint, it had great sightlines for basketball. 3/87
The view of the Mecca and its big brother, the Bradley Center. 9/91
The back end of the Mecca with the glass of the Bradley center to the right. 9/91
Another view of the back of the Mecca. 9/91
The entrances off 4th street. 9/91
The former locker room for the Milwaukee Bucks. 9/91
The coaches room for the Bucks. 9/91
The coaches shower room. 9/91
The shower in the Bucks locker room. 9/91
The green door is the locker room for the Bucks. 9/91
The cramped visitors locker room in the Mecca. 9/91
The floor of the Mecca. It's 1991 and the Mecca was basically in mothballs. 9/91
The concession stands in the concourse, on the west side of the building. 9/91
The main lobby of the Mecca. The ticket office is the round building in front. All of the awards were taken off the walls of the lobby after the Bucks left. 9/91
You can see the faint outline of letters on the far wall where the awards were. 9/91
Downtown Milwaukee, about 3 blocks east of the Mecca. 9/91
The Mecca with the Bradley center in back of it. 10/94
The Mecca and Bradley Center. 1/96
The Mecca has been reborn. 1/96
The lobby of the Mecca. The walls have been painted and its rebirth has begun. 1/96
Downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee river. 6/03
Lighthouse on lake Michigan outside Kenosha. 6/03
Hotel Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee. 6/03
The brown water of the Milwaukee river in downtown Milwaukee. The covered walkways are a MUST in winter. Cold winds blast off the lake and walking can be a problem in the winter. 6/03