2022 will be the first year Cru will hold its conference in a new location, and it’s been 40 years in the making. Historically, the event has been held in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“The organization had to really rethink their program to fit in another city,” says VISIT Milwaukee national account executive Megan Husband, CFMP. After several years, the collegiate ministry tapped Milwaukee for its 2021 event.
A 10-day event involving multiple generations is no small feat, but Husband says Milwaukee is the perfect spot for this particular gathering. The compact convention center area with UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Wisconsin Center and Miller High Life Theatre on the same campus was very appealing to this group, she says.
“The layout will make it walkable for families. Everything is centrally located instead of spread out,” she says. The number of hotel rooms in close proximity was another perk the Cru team found appealing.
Speaking of families, Husband says that the entertainment options in Greater Milwaukee will work well for Cru’s multigenerational attendees. Several parks, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Discovery World are each less than 2 miles from the convention center campus. The zoo and several historical tours of interest are within a 20-minute drive, and in 15 minutes, attendees can be immersed in the woods for a hike.
But according to Husband, one of the best options for entertainment for adults and children alike is the beach. “We are so lucky to have a city located right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not 10 miles away—literally right on the shore. The water is a huge part of who we are as a city.” The Cru team will have excursions around the city as well as opportunities to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the great lake.
Conference participants will also have the opportunity to give back to their host city through volunteering.
The city is about to become even more appealing for event planners. Plans are underway for Milwaukee’s convention center to double in size, with 30 additional meeting rooms and a fourth floor, bringing the total meeting space to 300,000 contiguous square feet. The new top level will have a ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows plus an outdoor terrace.
“As groups learn about the expansion, we’re getting a lot of RFPs through 2024 and beyond,” Husband says. “We’re busy.”
This project has attracted several new hotels and a streetcar project.
“We’re going to see a completely different city from what we have currently,” Husband says. “I’m passionate about what this city has done and what it’s going to become.”
Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.