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Milwaukee Bucks Unveil Renderings of $1 Billion Arena & Entertainment District

Milwaukee is buzzing about the proposed new arena for downtown. The Bucks, on Wednesday, finally unveiled their blueprint.

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Credit Google Maps
The proposed site goes from Fourth Street and Sixth Street from State Street to McKinley Avenue.

It calls for the creation of an arena and entertainment district. The cost: one-billion dollars. Some business owners seem excited.

If you sort through the details of the plan, you find an arena that seats 17,000 people, a public plaza that would serve as an entertainment venue and a state-of-the-art practice facility.

Ken McNulty owns the Milwaukee Cheese Mart a couple blocks away. He was leaving his store shortly after the Bucks made their announcement. “Well...I’m hoping for more traffic,” McNulty says.  

Peter Feigin is team president. “This is built and developed to attract jobs, investment and growth. We want to create the ripple effect throughout downtown and across the state,” he says.

Feigin says it wants to build an arena on empty land just north of the Bradley Center, although the center would be demolished to make room for other components of the venture.

Greg Uhen is CEO of Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen. The company is part of the design team. Uhen says the project is not only about building a world class entertainment center, it’s about connecting Milwaukee.

“What will be different than today walking around the Bradley Center is that this will become a connected neighborhood. A neighborhood that includes residential, people that will live here, work here and be entertained here. And that, that makes it a 24/7 365 type of a neighborhood. And it also will begin to connect some of the very successful developments and neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity,” he says.

Neighborhoods like Bronzeville, Schlitz Park and the Beerline. But the Bucks caution that funding must be in place. Planners believe the arena would cost $500 million, and then private interests would spend another $500 million creating related developments. Gov. Walker asked for $220 million in his budget for the arena. But there are serious talks among legislators about decreasing the amount to $150 million. Tim Sheehy is president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. He hopes lawmakers change their minds.

“This is tax revenue. This is the kind of development, the job creation that creates the revenue that the state uses. This is an investment in the heart of the state that I think really delivers a big return,” Sheehy says.

The NBA has said the Bucks need a new arena by the start of the 2017 season. Team leaders say they’re working to meet the deadline, but it will be tight. They estimate needing about two years to build a facility, so they hope to break ground by fall.

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Sports economist Rob Baade says, to be economically sound and transformative, a new downtown sports center must offer activities that attract loads of people, all year.

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