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Milwaukee Bucks release new arena renderings, target groundbreaking this summer

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Let's just call it "The Beer Barrel."

If 2015 was all about figuring out a way to finance a new downtown Milwaukee arena, 2016 is expected to be about something much more fun: actually building it.

The Bucks released a series of new renderings of their proposed downtown arena today, part of the final design package being submitted for city approval. Naturally everything looks cool and futuristic, though that's not to say it doesn't have a distinctly...Milwaukee feel to it.

I'm on board with that.

While the arena isn't expected to be ready until the start of the 2018-19 season, it should go before the city's planning commission on April 4 with official groundbreaking expected sometime in July. You can read up on the architectural design details over at the Journal-Sentinel here, see more images at Bucks.com and check out the Bucks' official release and some more pictures below.

The images of the new multi-purpose venue and entertainment district illustrate the ambitious new development vision of Bucks ownership to transform 30-acres of mostly vacant land into a vibrant neighborhood activated by sports, entertainment, residential and office uses. The arena site, located between N. Fourth Street and N. Sixth Street from W. Highland Ave. to W. Juneau Ave., will seamlessly link with active development on all sides, including Old World Third Street, Schlitz Park, The Brewery, the Milwaukee riverfront, Water Street and the Wisconsin Center.

"We're just months away from seeing the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks and our collective efforts to revitalize Milwaukee begin to move from vision to reality," said Bucks president Peter Feigin. "These plans reflect the commitment of our ownership, generosity of Senator Kohl and historic collaboration with public officials to build a world-class sports and entertainment destination in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. We look forward to working closely with public officials and the entire community over the next several months to finalize the design and construction plans so that we can begin to create long-lasting jobs and economic opportunity in Milwaukee."

The exterior design for the new arena is inspired by Milwaukee's proud architectural heritage and bold outlook, coupled with the region's natural environment of rivers, lakes and forests. The hand-crafted zinc patina exterior, punctuated by nodes of glass to highlight activity within, will create an iconic architectural image that will anchor the surrounding development.

The 714,000 square foot arena will be home to Milwaukee Bucks basketball and countless sports and entertainment events. The arena design features an intimate bowl optimized for basketball viewing with the majority of the seats in the lower level closer to the action, while still providing the flexibility to host hockey games, end stage and center stage concerts, family shows, circuses and ice events, as well as open-floor exhibitions. Both the upper and lower levels will load from the top down, creating a more efficient seating pattern free of breaks. The design caters to the next generation of fans, featuring open and transparent concourses, additional social spaces within view of the action, and a variety of experiential and premium seating options. Additional operational efficiencies include vastly improved load-in/load-out capabilities that will allow the facility to accommodate a wider variety of concerts and shows.

The Bucks tapped Populous last year to lead a group of prominent global, national and local architects including Wisconsin-based firms Eppstein Uhen and HNTB for the new arena and master plan of the entire development.

"The hand-crafted zinc and glass exterior wraps the energy of a multi-purpose arena full of social gathering spaces and a new public plaza extends the development as a year-round catalyst for the transformation of downtown Milwaukee," said Brad Clark, senior principal at Populous. "Inspired by the natural beauty of Wisconsin's rivers, lakes and forests, this new Wisconsin landmark will stand out as an iconic addition to the cityscape and seamlessly connect with surrounding neighborhoods."

"Bringing this arena to fruition is certainly the first big step in creating the vision for the arena district neighborhood, but it will also serve to represent our city and state in a way that we have not seen before," said Greg Uhen of Eppstein Uhen. "People will be amazed at how well this new venue enhances the experience for all patrons, not just for world class NBA basketball, but for all events hosted here."