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Roundtable: Bye Bye, Bradley Center: Part III

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We swap stories and share memories of the BMO Harris Bradley Center

The 2017-18 season will be the last that the Bucks call the BMO Harris Bradley Center home. This offseason we will be chronicling the nearly 30 year history of the Bradley Center before it leaves Milwaukee’s downtown for good.

What Was Your First Memory of The Bradley Center?

Gabe: I was only five at the time, but my first game at the BC was quite the excitement. I had posters of the Big Three sprawled all across my room. Seeing them live and in-person was a thrill I’ll remember the rest of my life.

Adam: It was a package offer at my school that my friends and I took advantage of with our dads. A true guys night out replete with awkward dad talk that can only happen on the way to a sporting event. I remember sitting nearly at the top of the stadium (a place I would eventually frequent) and don’t recall any game memories.

Kyle: I went to a Milwaukee Wave game with my dad when I was 7. Soccer was the first sport I cared about so it was cool to hang out with my dad and see the Wave dominate everybody.

Greg: At a Milwaukee Admirals game back in the 90s when the safety netting was not quite up to today’s standards, an older woman ended up taking a ricocheted slap shot right in the mouth. That was pretty surreal for my first ever hockey game.

Rachael: Since I am not a Wisconsin native, my first memory of experiencing the Bradley Center wasn’t too far in the distant past. The first time I ever stepped foot inside the BC was for a 2013 Milwaukee Bucks game, where my family and I sat in the lower 200 level. It was the first time all of us (my dad, mom, and brother) had gone to a Bucks game in person. I specifically remember that we couldn’t believe how close to the court we were, and how excited we were to see the mysterious Greek Freak.

Favorite Game Moment You Experienced?

Gabe: I’d have to say seeing the Bucks break the Warriors’ 24 game win streak. The atmosphere that night was pure insanity. I’ll never forget MCW’s game-sealing dunk that capped off the night. Pretty sure my ears are still partially deaf. I also saw the Seven Seconds Or Less Suns back in 2006 and saw the Bucks sink 18 3-pointers while cruising to a victory. It was also the game where Charlie Bell notched his first career triple-double. My 10 year-old self was ecstatic after the game as well, as I had gotten his autograph on a piece of notebook paper. It was awesome.

Eric B: The Warriors streak game was really cool. I remember walking just behind the court-side seats after the game was clinched and seeing the fans shouting “we did it!” and high-fiving with tremendous force. I was also in-house for Game 6 against the Raptors and will never forget the fan reactions to the comeback. I remember slapping my brother and the seats below us with multiple rally towels and screaming to the point of near injury. I’ve never heard roars like that.

Adam: Attending Game 4 against the Bulls when Jerryd Bayless pulled off that spectacular game-winning layup. The stadium was overwhelmingly full of Bulls fans, including a particularly obnoxious crew of Chicagoans in our section, and few things were more satisfying than shouting “Bucks in Six” much to the chagrin of the sea of red pouring out of the BMO.

Kyle: Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Hornets, I think that was the loudest game I've been to. Seeing the team do so well that year and it gave me the hope that this team could win the championship.

Greg: The Detroit Pistons game from this past March that the Bucks won in overtime. It was my first overtime game experience and it was fun to feel that kind of anxiety and letting out a sigh of relief at the end as the clock hit zero.

Rachael: This is such a difficult one for me, because I get so emotionally invested into every game I go to. I think my previous favorite memories (Bayless game winning layup in the playoffs and breaking the Warriors win streak) have been fondly replaced with my experiences at the playoffs this year. The atmosphere was completely indescribable to those who weren’t there in person. Yes, I cried.

Favorite Non-Bucks Memory?

Eric B: I saw a few NCAA Tournament games a few years back, and I remember diggin’ the vibes all afternoon. It was completely different than the partisan cheering efforts I experienced during Bucks or Marquette games and it was just super nice to feel a different energy. Also, the blood drives were truly cool, and they were made especially enjoyable when the players stopped by to say thanks and shake some hands.

Gabe: The time they had chicken parm in the media buffet room was a memorable experience. Can’t forget about the brunches on Sunday matinee games, either.

Eric B: Gotta agree with Gabe on the Sunday brunches for the media. Two or three years ago, they played the (then) Bobcats at noon. They had donuts, scrambled eggs, and sausage links. It was amazing and I will never forget it.

Kyle: I would say the multiple times WWE has come to the BC for Raw or Smackdown. I have no shame admitting it was awesome during the 90s.

Greg: Back in 8th grade my friend’s older brother was considering going to Marquette so their dad took us all to a Marquette/USF basketball game. It was my introduction to Tom Crean as a human being and USF nearly won a buzzer beating three.

Rachael: I’m not-applicable for this one. All my BC memories involve the Bucks.

Frustrations With The Bradley Center?

Gabe: The concourses are brutal. You feel like you’re packed in there like a bunch of sardines in a can. Not being able to watch the game while you get a brat sucks as well. I’m looking forward to being able to watch game action as you walk around in a SPACIOUS concourse. Also, the fact that they built it and then said, “Crap! We forgot the windows!” and then literally built an entire atrium of just windows looks sorta odd as well. Oh, and having more seats in the lower bowl will be cool too.

Eric B: The obvious seating issues come to mind, but I’m sure other people will go at length on that. I’ll also add that there’s nothing really remarkable about it or within a block of it. It’s felt like another building and not much of an attraction, but hey we don’t have to worry about that for much longer!

Adam: I’d say the fact that when I’m walking around with newer folks in Milwaukee and point out the stadium, it’s hard to describe it as any other way than a concrete slab poured in a misformed mold. Also the sight lines at the upper levels are pretty pour, but perfect for hearing plenty of uninformed shouting without fear of the players hearing.

Kyle: It was an eyesore to say the least but I would say there wasn’t much leg room either.

Greg: I share Gabe’s dislike for not being able to see the game from the concourse. Everything else that was frustrating about the Bradley Center I can chalk up to nostalgic charm, but the concourse? Blech.

Rachael: My absolute biggest frustration that still makes my blood boil as I type: people seat-hopping. If I paid for my seat, and my experience is ruined by (almost always) teens who come down after halftime and take an empty seat in the lower level next to me... that is not okay. This happened at every game I can remember, and for some reason the Ushers never asked them to move, even when they were harassing paying customers. Now all of these memories are coming back and I’m getting angry! Ha ha.

Kyle: I can admit I have done that seat-hopping a few times in the past...sorry Rachael.

What Will You Miss the Most?

Gabe: Not being able to call the new arena The Fortress on Fourth Street.

Eric B: Knowing exactly where Dr. Dave will be seated.

Adam: Uber cheap tickets.

Kyle: What Eric said.

Greg: I kind of liked the really steep upper deck stairs. The fear of missing a step and tumbling down the stairs and over the balcony rail really added an element of danger only 1980s architecture could capture.

Rachael: What Eric and Adam said.

What Are You Looking Forward to the Most With The WESC? Any Naming Rights Predictions?

Gabe: The whole entertainment district is going to be awesome. I’ve been to Kansas City’s Power and Light district, which is one of the visions the owners are striving for. If it’s anything like that, it’s going to be super cool. As for the naming rights, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Hopefully it’s not something stupid. I’d imagine BMO Harris has the inside track at nabbing the naming rights, since they currently hold them for the Bradley Center. I don’t think it’ll be Johnson Controls, since they have the technology partnership with the Bucks. I also don’t think it’s going to be Northwestern Mutual since they secured that mammoth deal to affiliate themselves with the Rose Bowl once Vizio’s partnership ran out. It’d be cool to see Kopp’s Frozen Custard Center, but I think it’ll be something like BMO Harris Arena. And for the first 10 years of existence, I’ll probably still call it the Bradley Center, similar to how my dad called Miller Park by its old name, County Stadium, from 2001-2011.

Eric B: I’m looking forward to the new development and energy surrounding it. I had become so used to that piece of land being the spot to collect snow piles, so anything on that property is going to blow my mind. I’m excited for the Bucks to have world class facilities and hopefully several trophy ceremonies take place in there. As for naming rights predictions? I don’t really care what it becomes unless they get weird and specific to my interests. Kopp’s Center, North Avenue Grill Arena, or The Goolsbydome all work for me. Also, I need to eat lunch now.

Adam: Not living anywhere near Milwaukee at the moment makes me quite sad I’ll miss most of the early excitement surrounding its opening. However, the combination of an entirely new arena to explore, what sort of wild in-game operations they use and the fact I can still park by the MSOE campus and stop by my usual watering holes on the way to the game are a huge plus. Unless it’s named something spectacular like the Hamms’ Hut, I will be pretty impartial to whatever name they choose.

Kyle: It would be a dream for the new arena to have Rocky Rococo somewhere. I also hope the entertainment district can be similar to the Titletown district occurring in Green Bay as that would be sweet for those out of town to experience during the offseason. I’m thinking either BMO or Harley Davidson might have a chance to the naming rights (as long as us millennials don’t kill that also) and maybe even American Family if they pursue it seeing as they got the new Summerfest Amphitheater naming rights.

Greg: I am looking forward to see the economic impact of the arena 10 years down the road. With it being downtown and the team getting better, I imagine it will have a great impact. I’m curious as to which developments are going to occupy the “future developments” spot on the map as well. For naming rights I don’t think it will be anything of note. I hope it isn’t a bank or insurance company. On top of the Hamm’s Hut I will add either the Schlitz Center or the Pabst Palace.

Rachael: This new arena is less than a two minute walk from my apartment that I moved into earlier this year. Having the ability to see it being built and seeing the daily progress has been beyond special to me. I plan on living in Milwaukee forever, so I’m just excited to say that I got to watch the arena be built right outside my window. Having the biggest passion and love of my life be that close to me is something I never dreamed would be possible. No clue on the name, but I do think it would be really nifty to incorporate Pabst, since it is near (or is it within?) the Pabst district. Not sure if Greg was being sarcastic with that suggestion, but I think it’s actually really clever!

Do you have some memories you would like to share? Let’s reminisce in the comments!