Fewer than three weeks remain until the first preseason game tips, and the Bucks have recently announced a number of changes that will impact the way games are presented this season and in the years to come.
The Bucks announced that Tuesday they will reveal a new court design for the BMO Harris Bradley Center. A terrific story by Mary Louise Schumaker leaked details about the new floor and the hustle the team showed in getting the necessary permissions to go forward with the plans.
The Bucks want to play hoops on a work of art again.
The design will be unveiled at the Milwaukee Art Museum Tuesday and will be on the court in time for some preseason games in October.
(Robert) Indiana’s floor, with a giant M flanking each side of the midcourt line, made headlines and captured national attention. The new floor draws enough elements from Indiana’s original design that the team sought his blessing.
The Bucks commissioned a local artist in the Pop art style (Reginald Baylor), but after deciding that the league wouldn’t go for his design, they opted for an homage to Indiana’s floor created by their own design team. In a picture released on Twitter by the team’s account (above), there are clearly shades of the yellow and green prominent in Indiana’s original design (below).
Tuesday’s reveal is being held at the Milwaukee Museum of Art from 6 – 8 PM. Eddie Doucette, Larry Sanders and John Henson are expected to attend. The Bucks were distributing free tickets to the event, but those have apparently already run out.
The Bucks, along with Fox Sports Wisconsin, also announced that FSW would be broadcasting 72 games this season. Given that FSW covered 70 games last season, it’s a minor improvement for a team that had the fewest televised games last season. With nationally televised games — including those on NBATV — added to the mix, the Bucks will have an unofficial total of eight un-televised games after having ten a season ago.
Fox Sports Wisconsin also announced that Jon McGlocklin would be scaling back his duties as the color commentator on the Bucks’ broadcasts. He will now be splitting time with Sidney Moncrief, who for the past two seasons had served as an assistant coach for Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan.
Jonny Mac stepped back because he had gotten tired of the travel after nearly five decades on the road, as he noted in a recent interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
“I’m very pleased with it,” McGlocklin said about the new schedule. “I’m happy. They are. And we are just going to go like this until somebody doesn’t like it.”
McGlocklin, 70, wanted a reduction in the number of games he calls because he has wearied of the travel. He worked out the current arrangement with Bucks owner Herb Kohl and Fox Sports Wisconsin, which carries Bucks games.
“He knew and was very sensitive and caring that I wanted to get off the road after 48 years,” McGlocklin said, referring to Kohl.
The plan is for McGlocklin and Moncrief to each cover about half of FSW’s 72 broadcasts with Moncrief taking over the road duties. The home/road split isn’t unprecedented; the Celtics have a similar arrangement with their own legend and long-time color commentator (and adorable, unabashed homer), Tommy Heinsohn.
Adam Silver visited Milwaukee this week. Silver, who takes over the league’s top post as NBA commissioner on February 1, addressed the city’s need for a new arena in place when the current deal between the team and the HMO Bradley Center expires in 2017.
Silver took a tour of the facility and said a lot of the right things during his visit when he spoke first to a group of team sponsors (Milwaukee Business Journal) and then later in a sit-down interview with Bucks play-by-play broadcaster Jim Paschke.
On success in a small market:
Our new plan — our CBA — together with revenue sharing, are far from perfect. (But) we’ve designed a plan where every team, when well managed, when creating the right culture, has the opportunity to both compete and run a successful business.
On the Bucks’ leadership moving forward:
My sense is with Senator Kohl: lost to the country, but gained to the Milwaukee Bucks. With Senator Kohl back here sort of leading the charge, everyone’s focused on the same page.
He also notes well that tanking in the NBA’s current situation isn’t necessarily a strategy that leads to championships. But he mixes in those smartly reasoned opinions with platitudes and ill-conceived examples. For instance, when citing small-market successes, he mentions five franchises as successes: the Heat, Pacers, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Thunder. Miami has totally different weather/tax/destination incentives. The Pacers have done well on the court, but it hasn’t led to box office success. Oklahoma City got lucky, rebuilt and moved to get to where they’re at. Perhaps Memphis and San Antonio are the best hopes for situations comparable to Milwaukee’s, but even the Spurs tanked a long time ago (under a different lottery system) to get Tim Duncan.
His vision for the arena of the future gets a little bit fuzzy in places too:
They’re like a town hall. They’re increasingly the center of a community. It’s a little different than a stadium that, take for example in the NFL: eight home games, maybe a playoff game, maybe one or two outdoor concerts, that business has sort of gone away. On the other hand, a well-run arena, a vibrant arena: 250+ dates a year, potentially it’s where the graduations take place. It’s where the major speeches take place. It’s where in addition to NBA basketball, people have the circus — you know, all kinds of fantastic indoor attractions — and there’s more content being built all the time for those attractions.
And then even some of the things they’re doing, you guys are doing short-term at the Bradley Center: the right sort of amenities, creating the kind of environment that people want to be in where they can share experiences with friends at the same time, they can actually be on their smartphones or their tablets, get scores from around the league, be able to email, check in with the babysitter, all those things are critically important in an arena these days.
I mean, I agree that the idea is to create a community hub out of the arena, and that an indoor arena offers more versatility than either an MLB or NFL stadium. On the other hand, resorting to speeches and circuses as examples of activities that require a state-of-the-art facility? The most famous speeches I can summon in my mind took place outdoors. And isn’t everyone’s mental image for a circus location a giant tent? Perhaps he should be citing concerts, political rallies and conventions (especially if the project is merged with a convention center), and other sporting events instead.
This kind of hit-or-miss rhetoric isn’t going to be enough to win the votes of Milwaukee residents, and it certainly won’t be enough to win back the minds of voters of neighboring communities like Racine, who have already passed a resolution not to fund a new Milwaukee arena. (Play well, Caron. Play really well.)
Silver was a little more forthcoming in his speech to the sponsors. He noted that the BMOHMC doesn’t have a suitable lower bowl configuration, it needs modern amenities, and that it lacks the “back-of-house space” needed to properly facilitate particular events. He’s correct about what the arena lacks, but he’s still not winning over voters to pave a path to a publicly funded arena — although, to be fair, the only thing that may summon that much money is the threat of the team moving.
And so ultimately, that’s the threat that looms. Silver did note that other cities have NBA-ready arenas. He said expansion isn’t an option. He said that the NBA is a top-tier league and — in so many words — that the proof is in those other cities’ lusts for a team. Between now and the time when a decision has to be reached, there are more or less only two factors that could sway voters: 1) more private funds, and 2) team success.
On both counts, we do as we have done for over twenty-five years: we turn our eyes back to Herb Kohl.