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The Wisconsin Entertainment & Sports Center May Be Close To A Naming Rights Deal

Or maybe not. It’s hard to say.

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Well, Thursday was an interesting time in Milwaukee sports business news.

First off, the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group announced their first tenant in the development that they’re funding around the new arena, as Good City Brewing will be opening a taproom directly across the street from the new Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. That’s pretty good news all unto itself.

The Journal Sentinel had that story up by 7am, and the press conference for that was at 11. A nice little morning.

Shortly after that, Sports Business Daily reported that the Bucks and Fiserv, a Milwaukee-area company that describes itself as “a global leader in financial services technology solutions,” were “in advanced negotiations to become the naming-rights sponsor” for the ESC. The new arena is set to officially open in mid-September with a Kevin Hart show, and you’d like to think that they want that naming deal in place long before that, and with just three months to go, we’re starting to run out of “long before that.” All of this makes sense.

About an hour after that, Fiserv had officially issued a statement on the topic, which reads as such:

“We are not the naming rights sponsor.”

Well, that’s straight and to the point, spokesperson Britt Zarling. I will point out that you could read the statement as “we are currently not the naming rights sponsor,” which means they’re not against it or they haven’t officially signed a contract yet. You could also read it as “there is no chance in hell that we are going to be the naming rights sponsor,” which of course begs the question why SBJ ran the story in the first place.

Of course, the SBJ story is more than just a note that the two sides are close to a deal. It has the term (20 years), the value ($6 million per year), a mention that the Bucks walked away from the same deal in the last year in search of a more profitable agreement, and discussion of the marketing impact for both Fiserv and the local NBA franchise. It’s a lot of extra steps involved for a report that was relatively quickly shot down by one side of the arrangement.

If all of this is reminding you of something else that involved Marquette, I don’t blame you.

And so, we continue onwards, with Marquette‘s new home continuing to carry the generic business name that it has had all along. We keep getting closer to September as the calendar turns to June today, so hopefully we get official announcements of some sort soon.