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Milwaukee Bucks arena deal approved by Wisconsin state assembly

Proposed funding plan was far from a lay-up, though

July 29, 2015 |
bucks, milwaukee, arena, deal, wisconsin, basketball, building

Renderings courtesy Populous

The Milwaukee Bucks are one step closer to remaining in Wisconsin after the state voted this week in favor of spending $250 million in public funds on a new arena, according to ESPN.

BD+C has covered the proposed arena. Created by Milwaukee firm Eppstein Uhen Architects and global firm Populous, the venue will be built in downtown Milwaukee. Its design draws inspiration from both Lake Michigan, which borders Milwaukee, and from aspects of basketball, like high-arcing free throws. It is estimated to cost $500 million. 

Funding a new arena has been an issue for the small market NBA team. Billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry purchased the Bucks in 2014 with the vow of keeping the team in the city. The NBA, however, said that the Bucks would need a new arena plan in place by 2017. Without a deal, the league would buy back the team and re-sell it, possibly to owners who would relocate it to either Seattle or Las Vegas. 

Residents that opposed the arena plan cited the problems that arise when the government financially supports private sports entities, and referenced Miller Park. The Milwaukee Brewers' retractable roof stadium was publicly funded. Built in the late 1990s, it is still being paid off today. 

The upside to a new arena is that the state still gets to recieve income tax from players and staff, and that the venue could bring new development, like entertainment and commercial spaces, residential buildings and parking facilities, to the area around the stadium. Most importantly, the state gets to keep the franchise that won the 1971 NBA Finals and currently has up-and-coming players like Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo (and head coach Jason Kidd) on the roster.

The bill now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Walker has been working with state officials to reach a deal and is expected to sign it.



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