The Wisconsin Center District built and maintains the Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame as a place of honor commemorating Wisconsin's foremost sports figures, including not only famous athletic heroes, but many others who made other important contributions to the world of sports and Wisconsin athletics.
The Wisconsin Walk of Fame honors athletic achievement and glory, but is also about the important values intrinsic to sports - things like teamwork, fair play, leadership, fitness and perseverance. The people enshrined in the Walk of Fame include accomplished competitors such as Henry Aaron, Paul Molitor and Sidney Moncrief, leaders like the legendary coaches Vince Lombardi and Al McGuire, renowned announcers from Earl Gillespie to Bob Uecker, and visionary sports philanthropists like Jane and Lloyd Pettit.
Other notable inductees include: bowlers Chuck Daw and Hank Marino, Earl “Curly” Lambeau, Major League Baseball Commissioner Alan “Bud” Selig, Bucks greats Oscar Robinson and Junior Bridgeman, Olympic gold medalists Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair, and wrestler Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
The Wisconsin Center District's connection to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame dates back to that innaugural ceremony. The Milwaukee Arena had just opened in 1950 and was the premier indoor athletic facility in the entire state in fact, one of the most modern in the nation. The Milwaukee Arena and Auditorium Board launched the Hall of Fame in 1951 with fourteen members, and continued to administer the program and host biennial induction dinners for many years. For most of the next half-century, the original plaques and those of later inductees were displayed in the Arena and Mecca Convention Center.
By the time the new Wisconsin Center District acquired Mecca in 1995, the facility had just about run out of room for new plaques, and the Hall of Fame program was being administered by the Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation. The plaques were moved and then placed in storage during renovations, but in 2001 they were brought outdoors where everyone could see them to become the "Walk of Fame" promenade on Fourth Street, alongside the U.S. Cellular Arena. Together with the Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation, the District opened and dedicated the Walk of Fame on November, 29, 2001, with five new inductees, bringing the total at the time to 114 Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame members.
The Walk of Fame is located so it could be easily enjoyed by sports fans on their way to and from events both in our facilities and at the neighboring Bradley Center. Fans are invited to stroll through and check it out anytime in downtown Milwaukee. It's hard to not gain something from your visit. With so many plaques and new inductees added every two years, there's more than enough to see over several stops. The Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame is essential to learn about the people who made sports history in Wisconsin.