The Milwaukee Bucks have received a rush of excitement and optimism lately from winning the second overall pick in this summer’s draft and getting two new owners with plenty of cash and a desire to keep the team in Milwaukee.
While this is great for the team, they still don’t have a new arena, and Adam Silver has declared their current one–the BMO Harris Bradley Center–unfit for the NBA. The problem is that new arenas cost loads of money. And the public in Milwaukee is not really interested in chipping in.
Kohl, Edens and Lasry pledged a combined $200 million toward construction of a new building – Kohl giving $100 million, and Edens and Lasry also pledging a combined $100 million. But at least $200 million more will be needed in public dollars to get the arena built. (Sacramento’s new building, scheduled to be up in time for the 2017-18 season, is currently pegged at $447 million, for example.) And while Milwaukee officials, including Mayor Tom Barrett, have indicated the city is willing to commit public funds, county officials remain opposed – if not outright hostile – to any notion of helping pay for a new arena.
“I have not sensed a major change in public attitude toward the funding of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks since the proposed sale was announced,” Milwaukee County Board Supervisor David Cullen said in an e-mail. “I would say that the public is pleased that both Senator Kohl and the proposed new owners have made a substantial financial commitment to the cost of building a new arena.”
With the city and surrounding counties just finishing up with a tax that helped pay for Miller Park, the Brewers stadium, it makes sense that voters are not interested in helping to pay for another new arena. Even though Lasry, Edens and Kohl have pledged a combined $200 million, that’s about $200-$250 million short. Lasry and Edens seem very confident that a new arena will be built, so it will be interesting to see where the rest of that money comes from.
I can see the new owners and Kohl contributing more than they’ve pledged already, but it’s likely that at least some of the money will have to come from the public.