There's no such thing as a slow news day for the Milwaukee Bucks, eh?
Team President Peter Feigin, head coach Jason Kidd and general manager John Hammond were all in Madison on Monday, double-dipping an appearance in front of the legislature's Joint Finance Committee in the morning with an afternoon presser at the University of Wisconsin. The former saw Feigin reiterate the case for $250 million in public funding towards a new downtown Milwaukee arena, while the latter featured a formal announcement that the team would hold its first week of training camp and an October 20 exhibition game in Madison -- the team's first trip to Madison since an exhibition game in October 1999.
After five hours of Joint Finance Committee back and forth, the real news from the day was that the state Senate could hold a vote on the Bucks' arena proposal as early as Wednesday -- and that technically they don't even need the 16-member JFC's approval to do so. Feigin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele were among those fielding questions from the JFC, with the most pointed questioning coming courtesy of Republican Rep. Dean Knudson (Hudson) and Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor (who's ironically from...Milwaukee).
Predictably, much of the media coverage tonight has focused on Feigin's statement that the Bucks would move to Las Vegas or Seattle without a new arena, though that can hardly be considered news. More interesting was Feigin's assertion that the team's sale agreement with the NBA requires construction to start in 2015, a fact that has often been implied but never said in so many words. This AP story has more of the blow-by-blow, and below you'll find a sampler of items culled from Twitter.
@MayorOfMKE says clearly Wisconsin Center is on hook for borrowing for arena, but says it can handle it, "Is it pretty? No it's not pretty."— David Ade (@DavidAdeCBS58) July 6, 2015
Peter Feigin of @Bucks saying ground must be broken on new arena by October or November to satisfy NBA. Not saying when bill needs to pass.— Jason Stein (@jasonmdstein) July 6, 2015
Sen. Taylor driving home the fact WCD tax money wouldn't be available for 13 years...interest will add up with $0 paid toward debt til 2028— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) July 6, 2015
Sen. Taylor's concerns something worth noting as she's one of the MKE Dem state senators whose votes may well determine if arena passes.— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) July 6, 2015
As you saw by last couple tweets, looks like no JFC vote but arena could go direct to Senate vote on Wednesday. Need 17 of 33 to pass.— Save Our Bucks (@SaveOurBucks) July 6, 2015
We will need all out calling effort with State Senators starting tomorrow morning. If Senate would pass, then we will worry about Assembly— Save Our Bucks (@SaveOurBucks) July 6, 2015
It has always been believed the State Senate will be the toughest vote. Again, could be Wednesday.— Save Our Bucks (@SaveOurBucks) July 6, 2015
@RepDeanKnudson says he believes there will be a third version of the arena plan, different than current plan, that passes— David Ade (@DavidAdeCBS58) July 6, 2015
As of Monday night there's no certainty over what exactly might happen with a Senate vote; the Save Our Bucks crew is keeping a count of public positions in the Senate right here, and while the early numbers are encouraging (9-3 in favor with 21 undecided), the huge number of undecided votes leaves plenty of room for things to swing either way. As we posted this morning, you can find instructions for how you can reach out to your reps and make a difference right here.
As for the Bucks' return to Madison? Well, for a team looking to up its profile across the state it's something of a no-brainer. The only real question is why it took so long for the Bucks to make it happen. After all, the Badgers' arena is named after former Bucks' owner and UW graduate Herb Kohl, and Green Bay and La Crosse have hosted preseason games semi-regularly over the past decade. Why Madison never got into the mix is something of a mystery -- the team played regular season and even some playoff games there in the '70s -- but so it goes. The timing is of course perfect for both the Badgers and Bucks, as both teams are on a high after successful seasons: a near-championship for the Badgers, and a return to respectability for the Bucks.
Hammond and Kidd's appearance was also rather fortuitous, as it came just a day after OnMilwaukee reported that Kidd would replace Hammond as GM this week. The Bucks unequivocally shot down that report minutes after it first appeared, but as expected it was still a topic to discuss (and dismiss) today. Via Charles Gardner of the Journal-Sentinel:
"Again, our teamwork is as good as ever," Kidd said of working with Hammond. "We're very confident with one another. And there's nothing wrong with talking and communicating. And there could be a disagreement, right?
"But at the end of the day, John makes the call, he goes to the owners and we go from there."
And some more via Twitter:
Kidd on OnMilwaukee report: "I think sometimes sources can be wrong. This report was totally wrong."— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) July 6, 2015
Hammond on last night's rumors: "we're sitting here together."— Andrew Wagner (@ByAndrewWagner) July 6, 2015
This won't be the last we hear of this topic -- Hammond's contract expires next summer -- but it's clear the Bucks don't want to force the issue in the short term either. As always...stay tuned.