Report: Bucks to announce $1 billion arena district development plan

The Milwaukee Bucks are about to reveal their plans for the future of downtown Milwaukee.

According to Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Bucks will announce not only a location for the proposed new arena in downtown Milwaukee, but a $1 billion development plan for an arena and what they are calling a “sports and entertainment district” around the complex.

Since initially buying the team, new owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry have been discussing development of a large project similar to the “L.A. LIVE” district around the Stables Center in Los Angeles. Speaking at an event last June with the Milwaukee Press Club and Rotary Club, Lasry said they wanted this to be “more than just a stadium” and were factoring that in when they took in requests for proposals from arena/stadium developers.

If the rendering above is any indication of what is actually going to happen, it’s sure looking like more than just a stadium.

The Bucks sent out an email at 8 PM Tuesday night prepping for an announcement on Wednesday.

“The Milwaukee Bucks will host a press conference tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to make a major announcement regarding the proposed development of a new sports and entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee.”

The email indicates that “representatives from the Milwaukee Bucks, the team’s ownership group and the team’s design group” will be in attendance at the announcement, which will take place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Walker’s report reveals that the announcement will include development plans for the largely vacant Park East corridor.

The development would include a 700,000-square-foot, 17,000-seat arena; a 60,000-square-foot public plaza, anticipated as a sort of live entertainment space on what is largely a city-owned parking ramp at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Highland Ave.; and arena parking across the street in the Park East area. Total amount of space just for that portion of the development: 1 million square feet.

The current BMO Harris Bradley Center will also be destroyed to make way for some combination of a new hotel and commercial real estate or office space. It looks like in the drawing there’s even a park on top of a building in that space, so it seems like limits for what can happen on the grave site of the former home of the Bucks only exist in our imagination. We can also safely assume pieces of the arena will be distributed in lucky cups of Wendy’s chili as part of promotion tied to Bucks victories in an upcoming season.

Walker also makes mention of plans to build a new practice facility on Park East land just east of The Brewery development. I can’t quite figure out if that’s shown in the rendering above. The Brewery is the development over by Best Place and the Blue Ribbon Lofts a few blocks northwest of the current Bradley Center.

Where’s the money for all of this coming from? That’s still being figured out. New ownership is kicking in $150 million. Herb Kohl gifted that $100 million last year and then there’s money coming from the state, the county and the city of Milwaukee. About $500 million seems needed. Details remain murky and boring, so we won’t rehash exactly who is paying what or when that needs to be figured out, but it seems like progress is made on the cost structure with each passing week. Walker’s article does a great job covering the details.

More and more it looks like this is a matter of when an arena – now arena district – will be built, rather than if it will be built.

Categories: Arena Debates

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