Bucks Arena Plan Clears Major Hurdle

2:24pm: Walker said today that he’d sign the bill, note Stein and Journal Sentinel colleague Patrick Marley. Feigen expressed measured confidence and said it’s possible for the funding to be secured in time for an autumn groundbreaking.

12:48pm: The public funding plan for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee has received approval from the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 52-34 vote, reports Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). The measure passed the state senate two weeks ago and now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Walker has consistently supported the idea of a new building that would keep the team from leaving town.

Should Walker sign the bill, which seems a likely proposition, Milwaukee County must authorize the purchase of the land for the building and the City of Milwaukee must negotiate a lease, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. State, county and city leaders have been under pressure from the league to make sure an arena is ready by the start of the 2017/18 season, with the NBA having threatened to take the team away from owners Marc Lasry, Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan and sell it to others who would move the team. The public is on the hook for half of the arena’s expected $500MM cost.

Bucks president Peter Feigin released a statement hailing today’s vote. Still, progress toward the arena has been somewhat slow-going, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote in April that the Bucks and civic leaders faced a realistic deadline of June to secure funding. The legislature separated the arena bill from the state budget package last month, a move that bought more time. Windhorst nonetheless indicated that groundbreaking must take place this fall for the plan to remain on schedule.

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3 thoughts on “Bucks Arena Plan Clears Major Hurdle

  1. 100% chance the Bucks stay in Milwaukee. The biggest hurdle was cleared when Walker introduced the compromise they finally voted on today. The legislature didn’t want to add any new taxes or hand out any free money. They didn’t get quite that, but they got something palatable to most of the state.

    There will be a new tax and there will be $50mil of free money–but the cash will have to come from the city of Milwaukee or Milwaukee County (the city occupies the entire area of the county, though it also extends beyond the county) and the new tax will be on NBA players and employees, not on the entire state. Walker claims that $200 mil will come back to the state over the next 20 years via the tax. It’s been branded as a “pay their way” deal, and the legislature bought what Walker was selling.

    It’s more like giving the team a mortgage without interest, though. And the university employees who got laid off last week probably aren’t too thrilled..

    • Arthur Hill

      It wouldn’t have looked good for Walker’s presidential campaign to be known as the governor who let the Bucks leave Wisconsin. He had to find some solution, and it sounds like the final bill is pretty close to what he wanted.

  2. Chris Crouse

    Good for Milwaukee basketball fans. I really didn’t think this was getting done.


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