Bucks fans and media have been wondering for quite some time now when we'd hear some news regarding the specifics of a proposed new downtown arena. We waited through potential negotiations, kicked around some financing plans, and circled our calendars several teams when we were told an announcement was coming in 30-60 days.
There has been a lot of waiting. But now -- Wednesday morning, in fact -- we'll start getting some official answers. That's right, according to Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel and the Milwaukee Bucks organization, the team is prepared to unveil a $1 billion arena and ancillary development package at a press conference Wednesday morning. The arena is expected to be built on the land immediately north of the current BMOHBC, with ample development taking place in all directions from that plot, including the vacant Park East lot, current BMOHBC, and city-owner parking ramp across just across the street from the arena. The $1 billion figure thus includes both the arena itself -- which has generally been assumed to cost something on the order of $500 million -- as well as multiple phases of additional developments planned around it.
While the issues of funding are yet to be resolved, it's expected that the Bucks will unveil a few renderings tomorrow of what the arena and subsequent surrounding development would look like. Walker offers a much more detailed breakdown of the development in his article.
"The development would include a 700,000-square-foot, 17,000-seat arena; a 60,000-square-foot public plaza, anticipated as a sort of live entertainment space on what is largely a city-owned parking ramp at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Highland Ave.; and arena parking across the street in the Park East area. Total amount of space just for that portion of the development: 1 million square feet.
Another surprise, sources familiar with the Bucks' plans said, is the Bucks' intention to build a state-of-the-art practice facility as soon as possible on Park East land just east of The Brewery development. The Bucks' practice facility is in leased space at the Archbishop Cousins Center in St. Francis; the team would have to buy out the lease.
Lastly, the Bucks' plans, still in the conceptual and preliminary phase, call for the demolition of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, first opened in 1988 and now the second-oldest nonrenovated arena in the National Basketball Association.
The land now occupied by the BMO Harris Bradley Center could become some combination of a new hotel and additional commercial or office space."
Walker also writes that the entire development would take place over a 10-12 year span, though an arena would obviously have to be constructed much sooner. Walker writes that the new design--conceptualized by the Kansas City-based architectural firm Populous, infrastructure solutions firm HTNB, and local architectural firm Eppstein Uhen--has been shown to several important groups and has been well-received. Walker's sources say that the design is futuristic-looking. Below is a picture of the rendering from Walker's article and a map of the conceptual development plans.
(via Journal Sentinel/Milwaukee Bucks)
There are still multiple obstacles that the Bucks must address such as funding and the typical dosage of politics, which Walker lays out in detail. After concerns were raised over Gov. Scott Walker's proposed $220 million "jock tax" funding, State republicans are now working toward a $150 million bonding package through the state's department of public lands. Beyond the $250 million pledged by the Bucks and former owner Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has indicated the city and county would contribute $50 million mostly through land and infrastructure upgrades. But this is a huge step forward for all parties involved and will, at the very least, give everyone something concrete to work with rather than operate under speculation. We've all been asking for this day to come, and finally it has arrived.