Adam Silver made an appearance in Milwaukee Wednesday, speaking to a small private audience at the Bucks Partner Summit. Unfortunately this wasn't a ''hey, tell us about your summer'' type of meeting. This was all business, and according to The Business Journal, business didn't exactly thrill the soon-to-be league commissioner.
"One obvious issue we all have to deal with is we need a new arena in Milwaukee," said Silver. The news shouldn't make the ground quake beneath anyone, as it is no secret that a new arena is a requirement for keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee long-term. The Bradley Center opened in October of 1988 (prehistoric in arena years), and though it went through some renovations (suite upgrades, theater-style seating sections, etc.), that won't be enough to receive Silver's stamp of approval. Nor should it be.
“At the end of the day compared to other modern arenas in the league, this arena is a few hundred thousand square feet too small. It doesn’t have the sort of back-of-house space you need, doesn’t have the kinds of amenities we need."
“It doesn’t have the right sort of upper bowl/lower bowl (seating) configuration for the teams frankly that Milwaukee wants to compete against”.
The Bucks would love to just flip on the switch that gets the ground broken on new arena plans, but a) they're a small market franchise and it's hard to drum up the money quickly, and b) they haven't been terribly good of late, so gaining public interest (read: $$$$) is also more difficult. Several surrounding counties have already voiced their stance against a regional tax for the new arena, though that's not to say a new arena isn't going to happen. It's just that the wall put in front of the Bucks is a little bit higher than they'd prefer it to be, which means that Kohl and others will have to pony up a more sizable chunk of private capital to make something happen.
Though privy to the Bucks scenario, Silver isn't ignoring the elephant in the room. NBA-quality arenas are being built in Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Seattle. Silver isn't quick to bite on that news, though. He says the NBA has no plans of expanding and is actually quite pleased with Bucks owner Herb Kohl's efforts to keep the team in Milwaukee.
No, seriously. Silver said Kohl's ownership and investment to keeping the team in Milwaukee was one of the strengths the franchise had and that the Bucks have done well to reinvest in downtown Milwaukee, though the team's drive to raise money to keep the BC viable was never going to be confused for a long-term solution.
The Bucks have until 2017 until their lease on their current home is finished. Until then, the Bucks and their corporate partners have their work cut out for them, and it's not just the local grapevine talking anymore.