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New Marquette Arena Was Explored by University

Although it remains committed to Milwaukee’s new Fiserv ForumMarquette University reportedly took a serious look at constructing its own downtown arena. 

Starting with the 2018-19 season, Marquette men’s basketball is playing its home games at Fiserv Forum–the new downtown Milwaukee arena that is home to the NBA’s Bucks. While built and designed to NBA standards, Fiserv Forum also accommodates Marquette as part of a seven-year lease that began this season.

Earlier this year, however, Marquette took a preliminary look at constructing its own arena in downtown Milwaukee. Under the concept that was explored, the $120 million new Marquette arena project would have been constructed at a downtown site that spans roughly 12 acres, primarily surrounded by North Sixth, North Tenth, West Michigan and West Clybourn streets. Such a facility would have allowed Marquette to put its men’s and women’s basketball programs under one roof–women’s basketball currently plays at the on-campus Al McGuire Center–and play in an arena designed to the smaller scale of most new NCAA venues.

Marquette was even mulling a naming-rights deal with Wintrust Financial Corp. subsidiary Town Bank, but ultimately the university did not move forward with the project. The decision to scrap a potential new arena was reportedly made out of concern that it would take attention away from other university initiatives. More from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The university’s leaders decided raising money for a basketball arena would have taken its focus from higher-priority projects, including long-range plans for a new business school.

That’s according to sources who spoke to the Journal Sentinel on the condition that they not be identified.

Representatives of both Marquette and Town Bank declined to answer questions about the conceptual arena plans.

“The university won’t be making any further comment on this,” said Lynn Sheka, senior director of university communication.

The advantages that would come with a new arena include greater control over revenues and scheduling, as well as a venue that is built to foster the intimate atmosphere associated with college basketball. Those could be reasons for the university to reconsider a new arena down the road, especially once its Fiserv Forum lease approaches its 2025 expiration, but for now Marquette will continue to share the new venue with the Bucks. Marquette men’s basketball and the Bucks have shared a facility for years, as both teams also played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center before the opening of Fiserv Forum.

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