The Mystery of the New Arena in Milwaukee


Could the days of the BMO Harris Bradley Center be numbered? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Ever since the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise from Herb Kohl to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry last April the looming news of a new arena has been rather quiet and mysterious. The sale of the Bucks was dependent on the new owners being able to meet the NBA’s deadline of establishing a new playing facility for the Bucks by November 2017. The NBA sees the 27-year old BMO Harris Bradley Center as obsolete. Questions such as “where and when” have to take a backseat to the question of “how” first. It would appear that the “how” is being settled. And we’re now closing in on the fun part.

This week there were some new developments as it pertains to the development of a brand new arena in Milwaukee. The economic impact of this new arena seems to have been put into perspective. On Tuesday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker unveiled a “jock tax” allocation plan that would mean no new public taxes would be created. Essentially, to borrow Walker’s label, the Bucks will be paying their own way.


So, if the financial side of this conundrum has been puzzled together, then this all comes down to where and when. Where does this new arena get built? And, once settled upon a location, when does the process start and finish? With the news of Tuesday’s “jock tax” also came some renderings of what this potential new arena might look like.







For a rendering of what it might look like. It looks sharp. Much more modern than the current concrete dungeon look of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. I would hope that this new arena, in terms of design, minimizes the number of seats within the facility in favor of space to make the experience more comfortable and intimate. And that’s what the court level view kind of looks like to me with the added flair of glass panels inside the arena itself.

There has yet to be a location chosen for the new arena site but there have been a few spots chucked out over the course of time. The lot across from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, taking down Grand Avenue Mall and replacing it with a new arena while establishing a new mall where the BC was, or possibly even locating it near the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Again, the next question to really be addressed next is then where and when.

So what does this all mean for the Milwaukee Admirals? Good news you would think. A new arena means new tenants are needed. Any building such as that needs dates scheduled and operations to bring in business. If the NBA considers the BMO Harris Bradley Center obsolete than so to must the Admirals and Marquette University as a new arena would effectively mean the death of the Bradley Center.

As for that headache inducing question of, “would a new arena attract an NHL franchise to Milwaukee, wink wink Sports Illustrated. I simply do not see it happening. At least not straight away. A great example to me of how this could pan out in the long run is the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. It was constructed in 2003 and opened in 2004. The Manitoba Moose moved in the year it opened and would play there as an AHL franchise up until 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to town and revived the Jets in Winnipeg.

Could a new arena in Milwaukee attract an NHL franchise? Historically this has proven to not be the case. The Bradley Center was built with the NHL in mind and never accomplished that feat. Yet, with so many swirling rumors of expansion in the NHL, of course a new arena in Milwaukee will get the name into the discussion. I feel like Milwaukee as it stands from a geographical standpoint would be far better suited for success than a Las Vegas franchise. But, with other locations such as Quebec City, Seattle, and even another team in Toronto as possibilities. I just don’t see it happening simply because a new arena is on the way.

What are your reactions to the recent news on the Milwaukee Bucks arena plans? Is the “Jock Tax” a good thing? (Please not turn the comments into a full scale political attack platform, plz thx) Also, could the new arena mean NHL hockey in Milwaukee? Could Milwaukee sustain an NHL franchise?

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10 Responses to The Mystery of the New Arena in Milwaukee

  1. sanford943 says:

    I was under the impression that one of the reasons for not getting an NHL team was that the Black Hawks wanted a big fee. I am guessing they thought this was part of their territory. The SI article said that the Badger team has a big backing. I went to my first Badger game this year and the arena was maybe half full. They are having a bad year after winning the Big Ten Championship so that is probIably a reason for the smaller crowds

    As for having an NHL team in Milwaukee it would be cool. On the other hand going Admiral games way cheaper than an NHL game. We have a flex pack and go to 15 games a year. We usually go to a couple of more. I doubt I would go to that many if an NHL team were here. Expansion teams normally don’t do well. How long will Milwaukee fans put up wtih a losing team.

  2. Onetimer says:

    Small market’s don’t support Basketball, and Hockey. One will always fail. A New Arena would mean worse sight lines for Hockey. Not good for the Admirals, and their fans. You would think the average price for a ticket would rise.

    On the other hand the Arena, will bring new people to games, to experience the Arena. So possibly a new breed of fans. The I want to experience the Arena , but can’t afford the Bucks fan. Since Marquette already charges more then the Admirals, the Admirals would be the cheapest way to see the new Arena.

    The new Arena will impose on the Admirals most loyal fans. Before the Brewers moved into Miller Park, you could get into the first five rows behind the dugout, for under $20 a ticket. Now preferred parking at a Brewer’s game, is close to $20 a game. Pro Basketball sucks… So not good.

  3. frontrowjon says:

    I’ve posted before my feelings on this whole arena thing. Im crossing fingers that the UWM arena stays up and the Ads move in there, screw this new arena The “U” would offer less seats BUT a louder more dynamic atmosphere kinda like Rockford, an NHL team in Milwaukee is like a NFL team here it won’t happen. This city doesn’t support the teams it already has.

  4. Jim Zeirke says:

    I don’t recall objections from the Blackhawks as being the reason that the NHL didn’t come here when the BC was built. From what I remember, the Petit’s wanted an existing franchise because they felt that they needed a successful team right out of the box. The NHL would only consider an expansion franchise and Lloyd Petit had seen how poorly those teams did in their early years. Knowing that he needed to attract the marginal fans who would come with a winning team, or a team with big name players, he passed on the expansion franchise.

    People say that Milwaukee is not a good hockey town because of the low turn-outs for Admirals games. My reply would be, well, how would the crowds be if the Bucks were a CBA team? Would the Brewers have the attendance that they have now if they were a AAA club?

    That Milwaukee couldn’t support both the Bucks and an NHL team seems to ignore the fact that for the most part they draw different fans. I’ll agree that there are not a lot of crossover fans who closely follow both sports. So, I don’t think that you’d have a lot of fans who would give up on the Bucks for the sake of hockey. But I also don’t think that you could rely on the present Admirals attendance marks as indicative of what an NHL franchise would do here.

  5. Jim Zeirke says:

    I would also say that you can add me to the list of those who aren’t fans of NBA basketball, or much of any basketball for that matter. I don’t understand the game and no one seems to play defense. What’s the point?

  6. Casey says:

    One line of reasoning that I really liked is that this new arena will need to be filled with more then just the few basketball games and a scattering of concerts. An NHL team migh fill that void. Everyone here already loves hockey so that is why we’re following our AHL Admirals but just imagine how great the draw would be for a team in the best hockey league in the world. The Ads attendence probably isn’t far off from say Columbus, AZ or Florida. Let’s relocate one of those teams here or maybe the new owners of the Bucks can pursuade one of their friends to buy and relocate the Islanders out here and put them in the West thus evening the two conferences.

  7. Steve C says:

    First off, while I don’t want the Bradley Center to go, it’s time to face facts and realize that a new arena is going to be built downtown and the Admirals are more than likely moving into it. Someone said they want the Ads to move into the UWM Arena. Hell no! While I admit I haven’t been there in awhile, I do not want to move to an older, outdated facility.

    Regarding the NHL team, I think it is a complete long shot,but not out of the question. The Wolves owner was looking to buy an NHL team for a long time and his plans were basically shot down with Seattle. Who knows, maybe he’d step up and put a team in Milwaukee! The Milwaukee Admirals can become an NHL team with an AHL affiliate of the Chicago Wolves. Think about that for a moment…

    My one concern of an NHL team in Milwaukee would be ticket prices. I for one cannot afford NHL season ticket prices :( I think a similar market to Milwaukee would be the Columbus Blue Jackets in terms of being a smaller market team. Looking at their season ticket prices this season, their cheapest ticket is $800, just a few more bucks than my current ticket for the Admirals. I sit center ice, about 12 rows up. Tickets are around $700 or so. The same seat in Columbus would be $3,475 for a season ticket :(

  8. Steve C says:

    I forgot to mention in my above post, the cheapest Columbus ticket of $800 is for the top few rows of the upper deck behind the nets :(

  9. Fan in the Falls says:

    I just don’t see an NHL team coming to Milwaukee. I honestly don’t think the market would support it. NHL tickets are pretty expensive and I think many of the hardcore hockey fans in the Milwaukee area, aka, those who consistently go to Ads games, would be priced out. I do understand there is a difference between people allowing themselves to follow a major league versus a minor league team, but I think a Milwaukee team would end up with bad attendance like the Florida Panthers or Arizona Coyotes.

    Personally, I’m conflicted, because while it would be cool to have an NHL team, I like to go to hockey games and would be priced out. I would probably be able to afford to go twice per season sitting in the nosebleed seats.

    As for the new arena, what I’m afraid of is, since it will be geared towards basketball, the seating and sight lines for hockey will suck. Plus, as was mentioned, I’m sure the Ads ticket prices will increase more than we’re used to and I’ll probably still end up not being able to afford going to as many games as I can now. That said, I do understand and agree with the concept that users of an arena should pay their way rather than sticking people who couldn’t care less about anything going on at the arena with part of the cost.

  10. Lloyd Oldenburg says:

    I feel the Bradley Center was donated by Lloyd and Jane Petit and was set up for a NHL franchise ! I’m just glad we have the Admirals here in Milwaukee.We should respect there donation and make sure we keep the Bradley Center in there honor for their donation for us in Milwaukee! I don’t see why they don’t take out a petition to fight for it! If the Bucks want to level it for parking , just add some more money to build a new parking structure.I hope all the city fathers who approve this take time to realize what Jane had done for Miwaukee!

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