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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye Bradley Center, Hello Mega-Plex

(This blog post was written by Mikhail Nenaydykh; this is Mikhail's first blog post and The Warrior is excited to welcome him aboard.)

The problem with the Milwaukee Bucks is that they are majorly mismanaged and in great disarray. According to Forbes, they have ranked dead last in the NBA in terms of value for two years running. Ironically, they saw annual growth during both years.
Without a major adjustment, the Bucks franchise could eventually either become bankrupt or have to change host-cities, costing Milwaukee and the fans. There have been several cases of teams moving of late; most recently, the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, and before that, the Charlotte Hornets changed to the New Orleans Hornets.
This is especially an issue because of the current labor dispute between the NBA and the Players Union. As with the NFL, and soon the MLB, the two sides are negotiating millions, and one possibility being discussed is teams being disbanded and their players auctioned off to the rest of the NBA. The entire league is suffering from the economy’s slide. This would make sense because under the current system, the NBA has to pay for the teams that don't make money, so cutting these teams would mean more money to invest in other opportunities, like moving teams abroad.
The thing that would keep the Bucks in Milwaukee would be to make the team more valuable. The way to do this is by making the team consistently better every year, and by gaining support from the county, like the Brewers did with Miller Park. The team needs a new venue, and so does the city.
The major problem with the Bucks’ situation is the Bradley Center. Under the terms of their lease, the Bucks are owed $8.5 million by the Bradley Center LLC, which is to be paid out over the next several years. Also, the venue is among the oldest in the NBA, and breaks down consistently. As recently as 2009, the Bradley Center asked for a bailout from then Governor Jim Doyle. He included a provision for five million dollars, but the pavilion’s group still needed $18 million in renovations.
In comparison, the Brewers pay $900,000 to the owners of Miller Park, but make money off of tickets and merchandise. This approach has worked very well recently for the Crew, as their attendance has followed their increasingly maturing performance. Also, what has helped the team add talent, fans, and exposure was the development of Miller Park. Although the stadium cost the county approximately $392 million, it was worth every penny.
In agreement with former Senator Herb Kohl, the city needs to pay for a new mega pavilion. But if they do it, they would have to go all out. Such an investment would help the city’s national exposure grow exponentially. Such a venue could be similar to the famous Calatrava Art Museum. In fact, why not hire Calatrava to design the pavilion? With an already established connection and familiarity with the city, the agreement would not be difficult to arrange.
Making another major landmark that also attracts major media stars would further put Milwaukee on the map, attracting the bright minds of America to our city. Instead of bubbling ourselves out from the rest of the nation, the state needs to branch out and invite people to come in. And from the Bucks’ perspective, the team would be able to attract more fans and better talent to the team, similar to how the Brewers did. With a great pavilion to play in, players are more comfortable and would be more open to coming and playing for our team (as attracting talent has been an issue in recent years).
Yes this would cost that state a lot of money, but the fastest way to remove debt is to find major money making opportunities. By creating such a mega-plex, the long term investment would have a high percentage revenue yield. And the fans would keep getting to watch the basketball franchise that they grew up on.

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