MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The BMO Harris Bradley Center is 25 years old, and many, including arena officials say it is time to look to the future. On Monday, April 8th, on the Marquette University campus speakers came from across the city and country to offer their two cents.
“Every time they take a poll, ‘do you want a new arena?’ That’s not the right question! Do you want a new arena? Do you want a quality of life where your grandchildren want to live here? That’s the question,” Tim Sheehy with the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce said.
For some panelists speaking Monday it is simple: either replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center or Milwaukee almost certainly loses the Bucks, and becomes less relevant as a city.
“We sell over $1 billion worth of goods and services to China. And in that conversation, I’ll be talking about male deer because they’ll connect to the Bucks faster than they’ll connect to anything about Milwaukee,” Marc Marotta, Chairman of the Bradley Center Board said.
If the moral support is there, the next question is who will pay for the new arena. Sports columnist Andrew Zimbalist has studied the construction of arenas and stadiums around the country.
“What these studies come to is the conclusion that it is not logical to believe that building a new stadium, or new arena, or attracting a professional sports team to your city will have a positive economic impact,” Zimbalist said.
Zimbalist adds there are examples of new arenas giving their communities a boost, but those arenas were almost always privately funded — something Bradley Center officials don’t think is realistic for Milwaukee.
“It just doesn’t make sense. The revenue model doesn’t make sense in cities like Milwaukee without some public contribution,” Greg Marcus, president of the Marcus Corporation said.
Although discussions are at a preliminary stage, there is a limited amount of time left to find a solution. The chairman of the Bradley Center Board says the arena has about five years left as a useful, viable, modern arena.
The Bucks’ lease with the arena expires in 2017.