Former Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl has agreed to sell the Milwaukee Bucks to investment bankers Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens. That's the headline item, and if you want to get more into the details of that, run yourself over to Brew Hoop, SB Nation's very own Bucks community.
We're here to assess the issue of a new home for the Milwaukee Bucks, and by process of elimination, a new home for Marquette men's basketball.
Part of the reason that Kohl has sold the Bucks now other than his own age (he turned 79 in February) is that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver visited Milwaukee in September before he took over for outgoing commissioner David Stern and point blank said that the Bradley Center is not the kind of arena that meets the NBA's standards for their buildings. Silver specifically pointed out that the BC is "a few hundred thousand square feet too small." That sizing issue then turns into a failure to provide both the easy to spot ameneties of a modern stadium and the behind the scenes operational space that the NBA likes to see from their partners.
The primary issue at hand, of course, is money. Discounting Barclays Center in Brooklyn, because no one - AND THE ROCK MEANS NO ONE - thinks Milwaukee has to spend a billion dollars on an arena, here are the four newest NBA arenas and their price tags, according to their Wikipedia pages:
- Toyota Center in Houston, opened in 2003, $235 million
- FedEx Forum in Memphis, opened in 2004, $250 million
- Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, opened in 2005, $260 million
- Amway Center in Orlando, opened in 2012, $480 million
With the time gap in between Time Warner Cable Arena and Amway Center, I think it's safe to say that the construction costs in Milwaukee will line up slightly closer to the latter than the former. With that said, Lasry and Edens have vowed to match a $100 million gift from Kohl for a total of $200 million in private money going towards the construction of a new building. Milwaukee County and the four surrounding counties have undergone a sales tax to help pay for Miller Park, and most of the political powers in the area are against further taxing their constituents for something that falls under the heading of entertainment. The money from the present and future owners of the Bucks may help grease the skids towards public money for an arena, depending on how much that final price tag actually ends up being.
The Bucks have a lease with the Bradley Center that runs through 2017, and the NBA is fine with the Bucks finishing that lease. From reading Brew Hoop's assessment of the press conference introducing Lasry and Edens, they seem very confident that the planning process can begin and end relatively quickly and construction can begin with more than enough time to meet the NBA's deadline of the end of that lease.
This is a lot of political discussion for a college sports blog, of course, and the real end point is how this affects Marquette. It's to Marquette's benefit to continue to have announcers say on broadcasts that the games are emanating from an NBA arena, and the subtle benefit of having visiting NBA teams practice at the Al McGuire Center helps on the recruiting trail. With the university tightening its belt a bit in recent months, I don't think the university can conceive of contributing private money to help with construction. While Marquette may not be an financial partner in any stadium plans, it's safe to say that they will be a silent political partner in attempting to get things moving towards having a shiny new modern home for Steve Wojciechowski's team.