August 2020

Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is set to host one of its biggest events. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a tremendous opportunity for local restaurants to showcase the Milwaukee area’s amazing restaurants and genuine hospitality.  

Thank you to VISITMilwaukee for the information provided on this website.


In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 DNC has been rescheduled from its original July 13-16 dates to August 17, 2020. It is unclear at this time how many days the convention will run. We will provide updates as soon as this information has been announced.


What to Expect

  • 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee
  • Over $200 million economic impact
  • More than 1,500 events throughout the region in just four days
  • Over 400 buses transporting delegates and attendees
  • More than 15,000 hotel rooms in the Greater Milwaukee area and regionally from Kohler to Madison to Lake Geneva
  • Huge economic opportunity for everyone in and around Milwaukee
  • Businesses big and small from all over the city and around the region playing a part to make this event successful

WRA Lobbying for 4:00 am Bar Time during DNC 2020

WRA is working toward extending the bartime temporarily in specific counties to 4:00 am for the duration of the Democratic National Convention that will be held in Milwaukee in 2020.  

A later bar time would accommodate the late hours of delegates, media and other individuals involved with the convention and provide opportunities for our bars and restaurants to serve these customers.  Many other cities that hosted democratic or republican conventions in the past have extended bartime for the duration of the conferences.

WRA staff have been talking to lawmakers about legislation that would be necessary for this to happen.  We have broad based support from both Republicans and Democrats who agree this would be a good thing for Wisconsin’s hospitality businesses in a broad area of the state. WRA is leading this effort which will create additional opportunities for bar and restaurant business.

The DNC is a prime time television event - activities at the Fiserv Forum and surrounding security zone will not end until 11:00 p.m. or Midnight.  This means delegates, media and other visitors will not return to their hotel areas until after Midnight. This late night return does not only effect the voting delegates who are staying in adjacent counties. We already know that media outlets and large non-delegate groups have contracted with hotels in Sheboygan, Walworth and Dane counties. We expect more in the entire southeast quadrant of Wisconsin to be utilized as well.

This late evening travel means that visitors will be looking for late night food and beverages near their hotels. The hospitality industry is preparing to meet the demand, but mandatory closing time on the nights of the DNC is 2:00 a.m.  Activities will just be ramping up at that point in time. Extending legal bar time to 4:00 a.m. on these nights only makes sense to meet customer demand and to maximize visitor spending.  Precedent has already been set in previous DNC and Republican National Convention cities, where municipalities temporarily moved bar time to 4:00 a.m.

Wisconsin statute sets closing hours in Wisconsin, therefore a change in statute to allow for this extraordinary opportunity is needed.

To allow for flexibility, municipalities will be able to opt out of the temporary change in bar time or to create a process that allows it to require a formal process for requesting extended hours from licensed establishments. 

This is a win-win for small businesses in Wisconsin. It is an opportunity to maximize visitor spending and help restaurants, bars and hotels meet customer demand.  We are competing with these same businesses in Chicago and northern Illinois, some areas of which already enjoy a later bar time. Let us keep the playing field level and keep these tourism dollars in Wisconsin.

Questions? Contact Susan Quam at 608-270-9950

Milwaukee Skyline

Prepping for 2020:

Connecting with the DNC

$200 million economic impact 50,000 visitors 1,500 events 4 days
Wednesday, July 31
Embassy Suites by Hilton Milwaukee Brookfield 1200 S Moorland Rd. Brookfield, WI 53005

No matter what industry your business is in, the economic opportunities of the DNC are huge. How are you planning to get plugged in to make sure your business benefits?

Come learn tactical strategies on making the most of the convention that is putting Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin in the national and global spotlight.

Cost: $50 per person

Presented by the Waukesha County Business Alliance

Contact the WCBA Office at 262-542-4249 or email

Register/More Info
City Attractions

DNC 2020 FAQs

Restaurants have an incredible opportunity when the Democratic National Committee is in town between July 13, 2020 and July 16, 2020. To prepare, these frequently asked questions have been generated to help owners and operators prepare. As we get closer to the event, we will update and add information for members.

Owner and Chef Discussion

Get Your Business Involved

If you are interested in doing business with the 2020 Bid Committee or Local Host Committee, visit the Supplier Registration Portal at


If you are interested in volunteering during the 2020 Democratic National Convention, sign up at to be contacted about opportunities.

Tips for Restaurants and Hotels

  • Be prepared to change your hours. As delegates return to the areas where their hotels are located, they will be looking for after-hours food and drinks.
  • Take down all online published room rental pricing and take prices off of menus, including catering menus. You need to be prepared to be able to customize your offerings and pricing depending on what clients ask for.
  • Do not over-extend beyond what is in your wheel house as an operation. For example: don’t serve breakfast if that is not something you normally do.
  • Take a look at your catering contracts and make sure that you ask for substantial nonrefundable deposits. Many groups associated with this convention will be looking at multiple locations at once. You do not want to think that your space is booked and then be dropped at the last minute.
Owner and Chef Discussion

dnc exclusive vendor contract

The Good Land Committee (the official name for the DNC Host Committee in Milwaukee) is developing an exclusive list of restaurants for those who are not familiar with the area to connect with for possible business. 

To become an exclusive vendor requires a contract with the committee that does come with a cost as a percentage of the resulting contract. Remember that they are providing a valuable marketing service for facilities and do vet the groups to ensure that they are legitimate. 

This may be a very good option for many venues, but be sure to read the contract carefully so you understand the requirements and stipulations of the contract.

DNC Vendor Contract

Contract Questions?

Milwaukee Businesses

Articles on the impact of the DNC on businesses in the Milwaukee area:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Business Journal
Biz Times

Questions? Contact WRA at 608-270-9950