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Bucks announce Fox Valley D-League Franchise

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The team will start the 2017-18 season as the 25th D-League team

NBA: Washington Wizards at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Surprise! I bet you all were waiting with bated breath on that reveal.

The Milwaukee Bucks announced at Wednesday’s press conference that they would be establishing the Fox Valley NBA Developmental League franchise. Set in Oshkosh, roughly 90 minutes north of Milwaukee, the D-League team will be owned and operated by the Bucks and will be fully operational for the 2017-18 season. The Bucks are now the 20th NBA team to run their own D-League affiliate, part of the league’s expansion to 25 teams next season.

The Bucks ownership and the President of the D-League released statements in advance of the press conference:

“Our ownership group has been steadfast in its commitment to both build a championship-caliber basketball program and develop stronger partnerships with fans and communities throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said. “We’re thrilled to announce this partnership with the City of Oshkosh, Greg Pierce and his team, and the incredible basketball fans throughout the Fox Valley. This new team will be an invaluable resource for our basketball staff and an incredible vehicle for connecting with Wisconsin’s passionate sports fans.”

“NBA teams are increasingly recognizing the NBA D-League’s value in providing opportunities to players, coaches and front office executives,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “A record two-thirds of NBA teams now own an NBA D-League affiliate, and I’m excited to welcome Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan and the Bucks to that list.”

Cool. So...why Oshkosh?

Several cities submitted proposals to be awarded this new franchise, with the list being narrowed down to Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Racine in the past few months. Ultimately, Oshkosh pulled ahead, one reason being detailed in the D-League FAQ on the Bucks’ website.

“The immense interest we received from communities across the state is a testament to the passion and enthusiasm of basketball fans across Wisconsin. While many communities put together incredibly strong proposals, the opportunity in Oshkosh to play a leading role in helping to revitalize a portion of the city, similar to what we’re currently seeing in Milwaukee, was the perfect fit for us. We look forward to working closely with Oshkosh officials to make sure this team has a lasting impact on the community far beyond wins and losses.”

Additionally, Oshkosh has been home to a professional basketball team twice before, with the Oshkosh All-Stars of the NBL (National Basketball League) and the Wisconsin Flyers of the CBA (Continental Basketball Association). Bringing a third franchise to the area was a smart move for the present and the future, according to the parties involved.

“I believe that Oshkosh’s Central City is on the verge of a renaissance,” Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings said. “The Bucks’ selection of Oshkosh as its location for their D-League team reinforces our reputation as a great place to work, play and learn. The new arena will be the cornerstone of a revived central city that will attract visitors and greater development opportunities to Oshkosh.”

“When we pitched this idea, the Fox Valley’s response was so immediate and enthusiastic, we knew this would be the ideal location for the team to expand,” said Greg Pierce of Fox Valley Pro Basketball. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Building a new arena, bringing the Sawdust District vision to life and expanding the sports and entertainment options in our region will have a transformative impact on our community.”

The Arena

Oshkosh investors and the City Council also approved plans for a 3,500+ seat arena, which will be privately financed by a group called Fox Valley Pro Basketball, headed by Greg Pierce, the President & CIO of Windward Wealth Strategies, per the FAQ.

The arena is set to occupy 8 acres along the shore of Lake Winnebago in the titled “Sawdust District” of downtown Oshkosh. All parties involved anticipate similar economic expansion and development similar to the project in Milwaukee. A handful of renderings of the arena were released prior to the announcement, all courtesy of Bucks.com

Those are cool pictures, but what do we call the team?

That is yet to be determined. However, the Bucks are encouraging submissions for the team name. You can fill out your submission form right here, so that’s cool.

Coaching and management staffs have yet to be filled out, so stay tuned as more news breaks along the way. This process is still in its early stages, but the Bucks are making moves and it’s starting to affect more than just Milwaukee now.

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigen praised Oshkosh city officials for creating a great proposal and helping them bring professional basketball back to the area. The D-League President Malcolm Turner made an appearance as well commenting that the team would “headline” their 2017-18 class. Milwaukee GM John Hammond effused the importance of having a D-League team for the Bucks to ensure they’re able to cultivate talent at the same level as other NBA teams.

A number of city officials from across the state were on hand including Greg Pierce, whose organization is bankrolling the arena, Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, all of whom discussed the great potential for growth with this new development.

BMO Harris Bank was announced as the first official sponsor of the Fox Valley Basketball team. Former Bucks Fred Roberts, Bob Dandridge, Desmond Mason, Sidney Moncrief and Vin Baker were all at the event.