Journal-Sentinel: Bucks eye Journal building, Milwaukee Theatre block for new downtown area
When Jim Owczarski reported on Thursday that the Bucks were negotiating to buy the Journal Square block as the basis of a new arena site, the obvious question on our minds was whether the development would need to cross 4th Street -- and thus also involve the Wisconsin Center District-controlled UWM-Panther Arena and Milwaukee Theatre. Though Owczarski's report noted that the Bucks had developed renderings for an arena fitting within the Journal Square block, a quick glance at a map made it obvious that the site was small and on its own unlikely to fulfill the grand visions for a new arena development.
Thus it's not insignificant that over the weekend Don Walker corroborated many of Owczarski's key points while emphasizing the Bucks' hopes of not only buying the Journal Square property, but also demolishing the former Mecca Arena, struggling Milwaukee Theatre and (eventually) the Bradley Center itself.
One source said the new Bucks' owners want to fast-track the site-selection process and hope to reach agreement with all parties within the next 45 days.
The Bucks also have visions of demolishing the BMO Harris Bradley Center and creating what is expected to be a mixed-use development involving retail, commercial and residential. That is a formula that increases the chances for a successful urban project, real estate and sports economists say.
Walker also notes that the previously-discussed parking lot at 4th and Wisconsin and property near 2nd and W. Michigan also remain possibilities, though the bulk of the piece--which you really need to read all of--focuses on the details of making the Journal/Mecca/Theater site work. Not surprisingly, Walker also has comments from Journal Communications CEO Steven Smith, all of which seem to suggest an eagerness to make a deal on the Journal's part.
But as described last week, the tricky part figures to be across the street. WCD Chairman Frank Gimbel's re-election vote was delayed last week, and a planned meeting with the Bucks last Thursday "never materialized." We could speculate that changes might be afoot among the WCD's leadership, especially given that the 45-day timeline reported by Walker would require a rapid resolution of some seriously thorny political issues--Gimbel's opposition perhaps chief among them. Still, I'd like to think there are options that could ultimately appease all sides, with the most obvious question being what the WCD would need to get on board.
On paper, it seems silly that propping up the old Mecca or saving the disappointing Theatre building would stand in the way of a much more impactful project, especially considering that the financial reasons for doing so are relatively small compared to the overall cost of a half-billion dollar arena development. A $3 million scoreboard and some yellow seats mean UWM can't give up a 64-year old building? Please, the Bucks pay O.J. Mayo the same amount every 25 games. Even the oft-cited $27 million in debt on the Theatre is something of a distraction; if a better project offers more compelling economics, then roll over the debt into that. If the WCD needs to justify its existence, does it want part of a new arena, or simply its own kitty for expanding the convention center? And if Panther Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre are dumped, can the WCD's $28 million in annual tourist taxes be tapped into for a piece of the arena debt service? Needless to say, the politics aren't simple (or the price tag cheap), but at least we're not talking about fundamentally irreconcilable differences. All the parties ultimately benefit from a more vibrant downtown--now can they agree on how to make it happen?
NetsDaily: Mikhail Prokhorov weighs in on Jason Kidd
Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is back in America, which means Brooklyn Nets writers have plenty of quotes to have fun with.
"You know, I think there is a nice proverb in English; don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you...I like what we have now. We have a really strong coach and a really strong GM in Billy King."
"You know, I think we shouldn't get mad, we should get even."
November 19 in Brooklyn should be a fun night, eh?