MILWAUKEE — The first Republican primary debate was held in Milwaukee Wednesday and brought thousands of visitors to the city.

It’s a small glimpse of what local businesses are expecting next year for the Republican National Convention.

What You Need To Know

  • The GOP debate brought thousands to Milwaukee on Wednesday, eager to hear from the 2024 Republican candidates

  • The spotlight will have great economic benefits for surrounding businesses

  • The 2024 RNC will be in Milwaukee July 15-18

Whether you tuned in on TV or were in the crowd at Fiserv Forum, the GOP debate brought thousands to the city, eager to hear from the 2024 Republican candidates.

Mat Meadows, general manager of Aloft Milwaukee Downtown, said they’ve been able to learn from past events in Milwaukee on how to prep for events of this scale.

“One of the great things about hosting the NBA finals is we really in this neighborhood got to understand the dynamics, what streets need to close, logistics of parking, and maintaining a safe environment for everyone,” said Meadows.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

Mayor Cavalier Johnson said Milwaukee in the spotlight has great economic benefits for surrounding businesses like Aloft. 

“I want Milwaukee to be in the conversation,” said Johnson. “I want Milwaukee to win. It’s those things that help us to attract more businesses and create more jobs to create a virtuous economic feedback loop for people who live in our community.” 

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

Even with protesters gathering outside of Fiserv Forum, Johnson said he tips his hat off to Milwaukee police who helped maintain order but also to those who protested.

“The Milwaukee Police Department had plans around this and executed those plans flawlessly, so I’ve got a ton of praise for the police department,” said Johnson.

He said he supported the protesters and their first amendment right to protest.

“If you are not pleased with a candidate or candidate’s opinion or position, just do it in an orderly fashion,” he said. “Don’t destroy property. Don’t hurt people. That’s what happened yesterday, so I’m pleased with how yesterday went.” 

Johnson said next year, they will be able to take the feedback from businesses, law enforcement and DPW to make the RNC experience even better. 

“I do see this as a dry run for what we’re looking forward to in Milwaukee in the summer of 2024,” said Johnson. 

As they gear up for 2024, Meadows said he’s excited to see Milwaukee stay in the national spotlight. 

“All of these events coming here is great for tourism,” said Meadows. “It’s great for the Midwest. As a whole, it’s certainly great for Wisconsin.”

The 2024 RNC will be in Milwaukee July 15-18.