MILWAUKEE (WITI/AP) -- Calling it "a very, very exciting day," the Milwaukee Bucks and its design team released on Wednesday, April 8th, the first images and details of their vision for the development of a new multi-purpose, $500 million arena and another $500 million sports and entertainment district to help revitalize downtown Milwaukee.
Officials say the images depict early conceptual drawings of a new multi-purpose venue and entertainment district that anchor an ambitious new development vision activated by sports, entertainment, residential and office uses.
"You're talking about an entertainment center that would draw near two million people downtown," Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy said.
The plans are preliminary and admittedly expensive, but nonetheless eye-opening.
"The most common theme from everyone is we're going to make this work," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.
The proposed site, which primarily sits between Fourth Street and Sixth Street from State Street to McKinley Avenue, will link with active development on all sides, including Old World Third Street, Schlitz Park, The Brewery, the Milwaukee riverfront, Water Street and the Wisconsin Center.
The Bucks and their developers say the vision is for a 700,000 square foot, 17,000 seat arena designed for maximum flexibility and year-round use. The design is complete with a public plaza and to the west, a Milwaukee Bucks practice facility. Officials say an entertainment district will serve as a destination that draws the people of the region together for unforgettable experiences and a place people will love to gather for generations to come.
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Mike Fascitelli said the new facility will be an "engine for future growth in Milwaukee."
The Bucks recently announced the hiring of Populous to lead a group of prominent global, national and local architects including HNTB and Eppstein Uhen.
How the arena would be paid for is still up in the air. It is projected to cost $500 million. There are a number of options on the table for financing. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the city and county are willing to provide a combined $50 million in funding. Proposals from the state range from $150 million to $220 million. Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million, and the current owners have pledged $150 million.
"We are in a deep partnership with the city, with the county and with the state. We continue to work hand-in-hand to work on solutions and continue to work together and we want to accelerate the growth of this city in a very big way," Bucks President Peter Feigin said.
When would this arena concept begin to get built? Officials say if all comes together, there could be shovels in the ground by early fall 2015. The goal is to be open for the 2017 NBA season -- assuming all goes well with the two-year construction plan.
"If we went with best laid plans and we had a state budget ratified latest June 30th, we'd look to get a shovel in the ground by early fall," Feigin said.
"The team is young. The team is growing. The team is young and exciting and much improved from last year. Its prospects are terrific with young players. We envision a new practice center. We believe it's an unbelievable boon for the city, the state and great for the Bucks too," Fascitelli said.
Bucks owners and the development team toured the country to get ideas for this project.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has issued this statement:
“Adding a world-class venue and more mixed-use development to the momentum we’re seeing in and around downtown is very exciting. The benefits to the state, the region and Milwaukee in terms of jobs, attracting investment and growing the tax base are key ingredients. That’s why I continue to support the Governor’s plan. I appreciate the efforts of all the interested parties to step up and continue working to make this project a reality.”
Marc Marotta, Chairman of the BMO Harris Bradley Center Board of Directors, released the following statement regarding the vacant property the Center owns north of the current facility:
"The Milwaukee Bucks have informed the BMO Harris Bradley Center Board that the team is interested in locating the new multipurpose entertainment facility on open land north of the current BMO Harris Bradley Center building. This land is currently used primarily for parking and includes property the BMO Harris Bradley Center Board has assembled over the last decade with an eye toward the future. It would appear that the foresight of previous boards and the current board was right on target.
"We are excited about working with the Milwaukee Bucks, state and local officials and others, and we look forward to assisting in whatever way we can. It is great to see the team’s vision for the future begin to take shape, and I am confident that our Board will work hard to find the right way to properly convey this property to whatever the appropriate entity might be after more of the details are finalized.
"In the meantime, our Board will continue to do what is best for the community, and that includes maintaining the current BMO Harris Bradley Center as the focal point of the Downtown entertainment scene. Our Board is committed to working with the Bucks and others on making the dream of a new Downtown multipurpose entertainment facility that benefits the entire region and the state a reality.
"Our Board stands ready to move forward."
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.