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Populous, local firms land Bucks arena design contract

Milwaukee BucksWe have an announcement for the Milwaukee Bucks arena design team, as global firm Populous will be joining HNTB and Eppstein Uhen on the project.

That is, if a new Bucks arena happens; right now a funding plan is under debate and should receive plenty more attention from Wisconsin state officials in coming weeks.

“Wisconsin deserves a world-class sports and entertainment destination that embraces Milwaukee’s architecture and incorporates innovative elements from across the globe,” said Bucks co-owner Wes Edens in a press release. “We are confident that this team has the expertise to create the ultimate fan-centric arena and a year-round public space, both of which will be integral to downtown Milwaukee’s transformation. By hiring a design team to help create a vision for this development, we continue to work toward ensuring that the Bucks permanently remain a vital Wisconsin asset.”

Populous is a global design practice that specializes in arena, stadium, ballpark and convention center design. Populous has designed 15 NBA or NHL arenas, including Orlando’s Amway Center and St. Paul’s iconing Xcel Energy Center, and the firm is currently working on new arena projects in Quebec City and Las Vegas. Populous has teamed with HNTB and Eppstein Uhen, which bring a total of over 200 years of national and local design expertise across various fields. Collectively, HNTB and Eppstein Uhen employ nearly 300 Wisconsin residents and have worked on thousands of projects in the state.

“We’re excited to be leading this design team and create more momentum around this incredible project,” said Brad Clark, senior designer at Populous. “We intend to leverage our global experience and expertise in arena design to create a destination that is not just for game day, but for every day. We plan to create a design that will drive year-round economic growth for the entire community and state.”

“Wisconsin residents and Bucks ownership have an ambitious goal for the development of a multi-faceted entertainment destination in Milwaukee,” said Tim Cahill of HNTB. “We’re looking forward to developing designs that show what an extraordinary asset a sports and entertainment center will be for the local community and entire state of Wisconsin.”

“The Bucks owners have a bold vision for the future of our city and we’re thrilled to be a part of the design team,” said Greg Uhen of Eppstein Uhen. “They’re passionate about weaving the new development into the rich architectural landscape of Milwaukee and we’re proud to continue playing a big part in shaping the future of our great city and state.”

As noted, a new Bucks arena is far from a done deal. There is a significant gap in the funding plan, and the state is being asked to float $220 million in bonds to pay off BMO Harris Bradley Center debt and fund the new arena. Bucks owners Edens and Marc Lasry have committed $150 million toward the project, while former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has committed another $100 million. State legislative leaders are wary of committing $220 million, however, and have argued Milwaukee and/or Milwaukee County should shoulder some of the financial burden as well, perhaps with land acquisition or the creation of a tax increment financing (TIF) district.

A new arena is expected to cost $500 million; the Bucks are shooting for a 2017 opening, which is aggressive: that means design and construction needs to be completed in two years.

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