WED AM News: Brewers seeing rising attendance in 2021 season; WisBusiness: the Show with Dr. Nick Von Bergen of Atrility Medical

— After a tough year for the business side of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team is seeing rising attendance as the 2021 season progresses. 

“The good news is, the numbers and our attendance are escalating,” said Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations for the Brewers. “We actually are ahead of all the metrics that I used three months ago when I reported to ownership what I project for our fiscal situation for ‘21. All of the metrics we’re seeing are better, which is great.” 

Schlesinger was the featured speaker during yesterday’s meeting of the Milwaukee Rotary Club, where he discussed some of the challenges last year posed for the team. The Brewers had a shortened 60-game season last year with no in-person fans, and the lack of a crowd impacted both the players and the team’s bottom line. 

“Especially for a team like the Brewers, where we are so heavily dependent on attendance and people buying tickets, buying beer, T-shirts and parking … for us to lose that entire bucket of revenue was obviously pretty detrimental to our organization,” he said. 

While some players were able to play at a high level, Schlesinger said many others struggled without the background noise of the crowds and typical fan engagement. The stadium had to pump in artificial crowd noise, in part because players were able to hear every word the opposing team’s members were saying. He said that created an “eerie sort of experience” in the stadium and contributed to “a very strange season.” 

Before this year’s season began, Brewers leadership was dealing with “a lot of uncertainty” about the potential for in-person attendance, as well as health-focused protocols and restrictions. A lot of selling typically takes place during the off-season, both for sponsorships and group ticket sales, so that uncertainty made it “a much more difficult proposition for us,” he said. 

Still, Schlesinger noted very few season ticket holders asked for refunds, despite all the difficulties with last year’s season. 

Earlier this year, the Brewers’ opening day event was able to admit 25 percent capacity and sold out with around 10,000 people. That was the lowest opening day attendance in the team’s history, but Schlesinger said leadership has been focused on “safely and effectively” getting to a higher number of in-person fans. 

As the pandemic has waned, ticket sales were increased to 50 percent capacity for a time. And near the end of last month, the team announced home games would have 100 percent capacity for attendance once again. 

“That’s 43 home games at full capacity, so basically half of a season,” he said. “When you only have half the games where you can sell as many tickets as you have, [that] makes it a challenge. The good news is people are embracing the opportunity to come to games.” 

— Meanwhile, the team’s leadership is keeping an eye on the rapidly shifting television market.

Changing consumer preferences could impact the Brewers’ viewership revenues. As many viewers are moving away from cable and satellite television and toward online streaming, Schlesinger said the team’s overall television viewership is declining both in Wisconsin and more broadly. 

“Obviously, we have to figure out how to replace those lost viewers,” he said. “A lot of people are going to streaming services; we have to figure out how to reach those people.” 

Watch a video of the Rotary Club meeting here: 

See the Brewers 2021 schedule here: 

— The latest episode of “ The Show” spotlights Dr. Nick Von Bergen of Atrility Medical, the winner of the 2021 Governor’s Business Plan Contest. 

The show includes clips from Von Bergen’s presentation at the June 3 Entrepreneurs’ Conference to a live audience. Atrility Medical has developed AtriAmp, which facilitates more efficient monitoring and treatment of atrial arrhythmias, a common side-effect of many heart surgeries. 

In addition, Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still talks about the latest Wisconsin Portfolio report and outlines coming events. 

Watch the show here: 

— Milwaukee 7, an economic partnership of seven counties in southeastern Wisconsin, plans to create 8,800 jobs and secure $1 billion in capital investment for the region between 2020 and 2024.

To date, M7 has helped create over 2,000 jobs and secured $501 million of the target goal. The group plans to achieve its goals by generating interest in Wisconsin and showcasing the state’s “Midwestern work ethic, which is like no other,” M7 Executive Director Jim Paetsch said.

Paetsch announced the plan during the group’s webinar yesterday. Department of City Development City of Milwaukee Commissioner Lafayette Crump and Kenosha Area Business Alliance President Todd Battle joined Paetsch to discuss the economic development of the Milwaukee region. 

The partnership between Milwaukee, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties was designed to “work directly with companies looking to create jobs and invest capital in our region.” M7 works with local, national and international companies to increase economic development in the area.

— Atlas Holdings LLC has offered to acquire Verso Corporation, whose Wisconsin Rapids paper mill has been the subject of several bills proposed recently in Wisconsin. 

Democratic lawmakers have been circulating a bill that would put state tax dollars into financing $65 million in loans to help cooperatives purchase and reopen two paper mills in the state, including Verso’s mill. 

Gov. Tony Evers had vetoed an earlier bill that would have called for the use of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to cover those loans, citing concerns that this use of the funds wouldn’t be allowed. 

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Connecticut-based Atlas Holdings says it’s offering $20 per share for Verso’s outstanding stock shares. Atlas already owns shares in Verso that represent about 9 percent of the company’s voting power. 

In a letter to Verso Corporation CEO Randy Nebel, Atlas Holdings Managing Partner Timothy Frazio says the company has been investing in paper, pulp and packaging industries since it was formed in 1999, including the subsectors of specialty paper, pulp and graphic paper in which Verso specializes.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about this proposed transaction,” Frazio wrote. 

Atlas Holdings had previously attempted to purchase Verso Corporation between 2017 and 2019 but was unsuccessful. 

See the SEC filing here: 

— A UW-Madison student housing division survey of incoming residents shows 92.5 percent of respondents plan to be fully vaccinated by the start of classes this fall. 

Another 3.2 percent of respondents plan to get vaccinated after they arrive on campus, a release from the university shows. The survey had an 89 percent response rate, with a total of more than 8,500 students planning to live in residence halls this fall. That’s up from around 8,000 in the fall of 2019. 

“We’re pleased to see so many students choosing vaccination, which is the most effective way to prevent COVID-19,” said University Housing Director Jeff Novak in a statement. “Having a highly vaccinated community helps protect everyone, including those who cannot be vaccinated.”

UW-Madison isn’t requiring vaccinations for incoming students but is strongly encouraging it. Students living in residence halls who aren’t vaccinated will be tested for COVID-19 when they move in and weekly throughout the academic year. 

See the release: 

— Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences and LegoChemBio, a biotechnology company in South Korea, have entered a partnership aimed at developing and commercializing cancer therapies. 

According to a joint release, the companies will be able to develop new therapeutic drugs using Cellectar’s drug-targeting platform in conjunction with LegoChemBio’s own drug technology. 

“This partnership reflects the shared commitment of LegoChemBio and Cellectar to rapidly provide novel targeted therapies to patients with difficult to treat cancers,” Cellectar Biosciences CEO James Caruso said in a statement. “This collaboration has potential to further enrich our oncology pipeline.” 

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

See more at Madison Startups: 

— Johnson Controls plans to donate $15 million over the next five years to nonprofit community colleges around the country, supporting expansion of trades programs. 

Those include heating, ventilation and air conditioning, fire and security, and digital building automation systems. A release from the Milwaukee company shows the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts these areas will soon see rising demand for skilled workers. 

“The Community College Partnership Program supports institutions through its funding and supports their students through volunteerism and mentorships,” said Grady Crosby, the company’s vice president of public affairs and chief diversity officer. “We believe this will empower people to build life-long careers that will transform their lives and their cities.”

Of the first 10 awardees for the 2021-2022 school year, just one is in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Area Technical College. This two-year college will use the funds to support recruitment for its HVAC program, and for training equipment upgrades. 

See the release: 


# Verso mill: Atlas Holdings makes offer to buy Verso Corp.

# New federal funding aimed at small meat processors could help industry capitalize on pandemic demand

# State Street bus rapid transit shelters redesigned to appease business concerns



– Crop report shows rain totals varied last week


– UW Credit Union is cutting overdraft fees in an effort to make banking more equitable


– Barrett proposes $30M for housing, $13.8M for workforce training in COVID aid plan


– Eau Claire is latest city facing ‘forever chemical’ contamination after the substance is found in 4 city wells


– Boys & Girls Clubs to hold press conference and ceremony for new regional youth workforce center


– ‘It’s alarming’: Delays in DACA renewal processing times are causing frustration for Milwaukee recipients and their attorneys

– US Democratic committee seeks intervention in conservative lawsuit challenging ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin


– Canadian company to purchase interest in Wisconsin gold and copper deposits for $7 million


– ‘I think the Governor wins’: Experts weigh in on political spin of state budget

– Special election to fill Wisconsin Assembly vacancy


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