Report: Milwaukee Bucks Closing In On Land Deal For New Arena

The Milwaukee Bucks have a bit of a ticking clock as the team’s new owners attempt to secure a new arena for the franchise before a 2017 deadline.

According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, the team is in serious negotiations to take control of a two-block area which includes the team’s former home, the Milwaukee Arena—now known as the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

The area, which also includes the Milwaukee Theater and land east of the old arena that houses Major Goolsby’s and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, would be razed to make room for an 18,000-seat arena and a new practice facility for the team.

The Bucks currently train at the Cousins Center in St. Francis, where the offices for the key basketball officials is located.

A new arena is expected to cost somewhere around $420 million. New owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry committed $100 million for a new arena at the time they purchased the team in April from Sen. Herb Kohl, who also put up $100 million.

Jamie Dinan, who joined the ownership group with a majority share in July, has also contributed $100 for a new arena and nearly a dozen minority shareholders have made contributions.

If the club sells naming rights to the arena—a fairly standard procedure in professional sports today—that could raise additional funds toward the building of the arena.

Earlier this year, the New Orleans Pelicans sold the naming rights to the New Orleans Arena to Smoothie King for $40 million over a 10-year period and the Portland Trail Blazers sold a similar agreement to Moda Health.

Part of the sale agreement to Edens and Lasry included a clause that allows the NBA to buy back the franchise if there is not significant progress toward building a new arena by the fall of 2017.

The Bucks have played at the Bradley Center—now called the BMO Harris Bradley Center—since 1988.

The significant hurdle will still be getting public funds to make up the difference between what the ownership is able to raise and the final cost of construction.

The Bucks have been part of Milwaukee since 1968, when they joined the NBA as an expansion club, and the NBA could still be looking to relocate a franchise to Seattle, where there are plans to build a new arena.

The arena problem was what the NBA used as primary justification for allowing owner Clay Bennett to move the team to Oklahoma City in 2008.

A Seattle-based group made an unsuccessful run at the Sacramento Kings in 2013 before an ownership group committed to keeping the team in California’s capital city was found. The Kings are on track to open a new arena in the fall of 2016.