We should see an announcement of a preferred site for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena before the end of the month, according to team president Peter Feigin.
A new arena was a top item for Bucks owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry after buying the team from Sen. Herb Kohl. BMO Harris Bradley Center is economically obsolete by NBA standards, leading the move for the new arena. Without it, there’s a good chance Edens and Lasry will flip the team (the NBA has an option to buy it). Goodbye Milwaukee; hello Seattle or Las Vegas.
The key to it all will be the downtown Milwaukee site, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal:
When I asked whether news on the site would emerge by the end of January, Feigin said: “There definitely will be some news — there’s not a question.”
The news will include the majority of the footprint where the Bucks owners want to build an arena and surrounding private development, Feigin said. The news also will include “the financial story and positioning,” he said.
In other words, the Bucks owners will explain how they propose to pay the estimated $400 million to $500 million project cost.
The site will be important. Edens and Lasry are looking for more than just an arena site; they’re looking for a larger site that can fuel further economic development, whether that be an entertainment district or something more business-related. Downtown Milwaukee is showing signs of revival — the Third Ward is attracting loads of investment, for instance.
Finding the money will be a challenge. There is already $250 million pledged toward the new arena from the new owners and Kohl, but coming up with the rest will be a challenge. The city and county are strapped, and the chances of seeing any state money under present circumstances (Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature are facing serious deficits) are slim. That leaves cobbling together a financing deal that includes a contribution from tenant Marquette University, a jock tax, or some other sort of sales tax.
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