Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio told Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal recently that he would be willing to help out financially with a new arena for downtown Milwaukee. Attanasio, who has owned the Brewers since 2005, has taken notice of Bucks owner Herb Kohl's efforts to gain support for a new venue, and definitely has an interest in helping out.
"I'm interested in what Senator Kohl's trying to achieve in terms of building an arena in the community," Attanasio told me. "The community needs an arena at some point - not just for the Bucks but for the vibrancy of the community."
Attanasio told me he would "definitely help out with a new arena."
Born in the Bronx but currently based out of Los Angeles, Attanasio led the group that purchased the Brewers back in 2005, four years after Miller Park opened. In Attanasio's nine years in Milwaukee, the Brewers have seen a $40 million payroll and consistent losing evolve into a $100 million payroll, two playoff berths and attendance that has eclipsed a once-unthinkable 3 million annually in recent seasons. And while the businesses of baseball and basketball have their fundamental differences, there's no doubt that Attanasio could play a critical role in the push for a new Bucks arena, especially if he was willing to foot part of the bill. It's not completely a matter of charity either: Attanasio is also a part owner of the Admirals AHL franchise, which currently shares the BMO Harris Bradley Center with the Bucks.
Keep in mind that Herb Kohl has already gone on record to suggest that he would be putting a big chunk of his own money into the project, and odds are he'll be leading the way no matter who buys into the team from here on out. With Attanasio and others potentially willing to chip in as well, the number that would need to come from the public would continue to get smaller, and that's assuming no other person or group hitches their wagon to this project. All we know at this point is that it's going to take a broad group of private investors to make a new arena happen, so at this point the more the merrier.
In the meantime, Herb Kohl is still seeking investors that he can sell his majority stake in the team to. There have been many rumored interested investors; even Attanasio at one point had been linked to possibly buying the Bucks, or at least a slice of the pie. Does that mean those rumors are false, though?
"I'm not allowed to talk about what I talk about or don't talk about," Attanasio told me. "I make a policy of it. I don't talk about conversations that I have with third parties or not. If I did or I didn't, I wouldn't tell you."
Well that doesn't seem very nice. TELL US.
Joking aside, even if Attanasio only pitches in towards the arena and not the team, it's still going to be considered a win for all parties. Any contribution from someone with that much success in the city will go a long way in helping to get this ball rolling.