After months (years?) of speculation, false starts, idle threats, breathless updates, more speculation, ownership changes, and countless courtside Gruber sightings, it all comes down to this: At a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning, the Milwaukee Bucks will reportedly unveil their plans for a mammoth new arena complex in Downtown Milwaukee. The plans include a 700,000-square-foot arena, a 60,000-square-foot public plaza, a parking structure, a practice facility, and additional space for future development. The price tag for this big-time behemoth? One million BILLION dollars.
As reported by Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel, the Bucks intend to build a $500 million arena just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and develop an additional $500 million worth of land in the nearby Park East corridor. The plans call for the destruction of the 27-year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center, creating room for “some combination of a new hotel and additional commercial or office space.” Put the BMO next to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin in the “27 Club,” we guess.
Walker goes into further detail:
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.
Another surprise, sources familiar with the Bucks’ plans said, is the Bucks’ intention to build a state-of-the-art practice facility as soon as possible on Park East land just east of The Brewery development. The Bucks’ practice facility is in leased space at the Archbishop Cousins Center in St. Francis; the team would have to buy out the lease.
So how will Milwaukee come up with the one BILLION dollars needed for this transformation (which is projected to be completed over 10 to 12 years)? Like everything else, financing is up in the air, though there is a $150 million commitment from owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, a $100 million commitment from former owner Herb Kohl, and a tentative $220 million state bonding plan from Gov. Scott Walker. Demanding ransom by threatening to drill a nuclear warhead into the city’s core and causing volcanic eruptions in and around the Grand Avenue Mall is likely off the table (as are sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads), though you never know.