MILWAUKEE, WI (February 5, 2019) – Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) is excited to announce that a portion of the roof of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater has been safely and successfully raised to almost twice the height of the current roof, from 39 feet to 65 feet. The lift expands stage production capabilities in the Amphitheater, which will now have the ability to host larger and more complex tours. This highly anticipated portion of the project marked an engineering and design milestone of phase one of the redevelopment of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

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Led by project construction manager Hunzinger Construction, engineers began preparing the roof for this complex procedure in summer 2018, along with Ace Iron and Steel Corp., ALE HeavyLift, Computerized Structural Design Engineers, Eppstein Uhen Architects, I.A.T.S.E. Local 18, Larson-Engineering, Inc., Professional Services, Inc., SPE, Inc., and Staff Electric.

“The roof lift was one of the most complex elements of the building project, and one of the most important, as it will allow us to host the world’s largest tours. The Amphitheater has seen its share of legends over the years, and by raising the roof, we will continue to attract top talent ensuring Summerfest remains a driver of economic impact and tourism for Wisconsin,” said Don Smiley, President and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Approximately half of the current roof was raised, from the stage out to the end of the current reserved seating sections 1-3, which is approximately 24,100 square feet (1/2 acre), and weighing 607,000 pounds.  The process of lifting the roof utilized eight different lifting motors, known as strand jacks, which pull cables inch by inch, from each of the eight points simultaneously, until the 26’ lift was completed.  Work will now continue to complete the backstage dressing room building, which will be open in time for Summerfest 2019.

The first phase of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater construction is currently on schedule and will continue into June 2019.  Immediately following Summerfest, construction will resume on the second phase of work which includes new food and beverage options and hospitality areas, added concourse space, new and remodeled restrooms, increased ADA accessibility, and a newly configured seating bowl which will maintain the same seating capacity.  The grand opening is scheduled for Summerfest 2020.

“We are so proud to be leading the construction team of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater renovation because back in 1987, Hunzinger built this venue.  I ran the construction crews that built the Amphitheater 32 years ago and I am here again supervising this amazing upgrade,” said Joel Becker, Vice President Field Operations, Hunzinger Construction Company.

ALE HeavyLift, an international company, based in Houston, Texas, carried out the roof lift and has also completed the world’s heaviest commercial lift in Brazil, in addition to other projects - off-shore oil rigs in Texas and a world-record breaking lift in Nigeria.  While an international firm helped execute the lift, there are strong local ties to companies who were involved in the building of the  original Amphitheater in 1987 and are part of the project today - Hunzinger Construction Company, Eppstein Uhen Architects, Larson Engineering, Inc., and Staff Electric.

About Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is an independent, private 501(c)(3) corporation founded in 1965 that produces Summerfest, presented by American Family Insurance, an 11-day festival that generates approximately $181.3 million in direct and indirect economic impact for the community each year.  Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. also maintains Henry Maier Festival Park, located on 75 acres on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  In addition to Summerfest, Henry Maier Festival Park hosts a variety of ethnic and cultural festivals, concerts, walks, runs, and other special events, attracting nearly 1.3 million people. 

The mission of the organization is to promote an understanding of different ethnic cultures, the histories and traditions of various nationalities, harmony in the community, civic pride and provide a showcase for performing arts, activities and recreation for the public and employment opportunities for the youth of the community. For more details, visit, or Twitter: @Summerfest.