The professional basketball season is still weeks off, but one of the most visible building projects in Milwaukee has people thinking about basketball year-round.
The new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks is due to open in time for the 2018-2019 season. But people involved in the project say that the progress goes beyond finding a place for pro athletes to play basketball.
Alicia Dupies, the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Sandy Wysocki, the Board Chair of Milwaukee Women Incorporated, say that they are using partnerships to improve other spaces, companies and organizations in Milwaukee.
"The new ownership wanted to make sure that we were able to proactively and strategically continue Senator Kohl’s legacy of philanthropy," Dupies says. "We have been blessed with many terrific corporate partners who are interested in giving back well beyond the 30 acres that we may consider as the arena district.”
Dupies says that collaboration was necessary from the beginning. "Originally, we looked at construction jobs," she says. "From day one, there needed to be collaboration between public and private, because there was public funding involved in the arena."
Dupies says, “We also looked at the ripple effect, where else can we invest? Because at the end of the day [we and the owners] want [our] legacy to be well beyond the bricks and mortar of the new arena.”
Some of the Milwaukee Bucks' partnerships include the Johnson Controls’ Milwaukee Neighborhood Initiative, which opened a brand new multi-sport complex at MPS Browning Elementary School; the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center; and the Carmen High School of Science and Technology.
"Women on the board have done some remarkable work in facilitating the process," says Wysocki, "and those are the stories that we want to hear, those are the stories that we want to share. We’re bringing Milwaukee’s women together to hear that story.”
“I think there is a palpable change that we collectively as a city are starting to see that we can advance things, we can move things forward, we can break-down some of the traditional silos," states Dupies. "Let’s think outside the box. We probably have some common challenges that we’re trying to develop a solution for and let’s maybe have some of those discussions and be willing to do things in a non-traditional way and in quick-way with a different level of energy."