Potential new arena could play host to MU, Bucks

DSC_1810Milwaukee is considering plans for a new basketball arena and putting together a task force to explore the issue, but Marquette does not yet have a position if the hypothetical plans become a reality.

The BMO Harris Bradley Center opened in 1988 and plays host to the Milwaukee Bucks, Admirals and Marquette men’s basketball team. Despite being only 24 years and 11 months old, the Bradley Center is one of the oldest NBA arenas, which prompted discussion from Gov. Scott Walker and former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, the owner of the Bucks.

Walker said Aug. 28 in an interview with The Business Journal that any public funding plans for the potential construction of a new basketball arena in Milwaukee would have to be voted on by taxpayers. In his interview, Walker stressed the importance of keeping the Bucks in the city, but did not mention the future of Marquette’s men’s basketball team, which is unknown if the construction of a new arena occurs.

Marquette basketball played in the Bradley Center since its doors opened, but the possibility of a new arena project raises questions about where Marquette would play if a new stadium was built. Although most discussions right now are hypothetical, Michael Broeker, deputy athletic director, said it is something that could be talked about more seriously in the future.

“This is an important issue for our entire community,” Broecker said in an email. “We intend on doing a lot of listening and learning throughout the process.”

The Bradley Center is the third-oldest stadium in the NBA, behind Madison Square Garden in New York City and the Oracle Arena in Oakland, which were built in the late 1960s.

“The challenge you are going to have for a new arena for the Bucks is that the BMO Harris Bradley Center, even though it has been around since the late 1980s, is relatively old in the NBA market,” Walker said in his interview with The Business Journal’s Rich Kirchen. “To most people, they look at it and say ‘it looks pretty good to me.’ There’s not as apparent compelling argument as there was with (replacing) County Stadium (with Miller Park).”

The consideration for a new arena is a part of a widespread “cultural assets” initiative led by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, which is called the Regional Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force.

In an Aug. 27 story in The Business Journal, Tim Sheehy, president of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce said the finalized roster for the task force would be released within the next couple of weeks. The invitation to join the task force was sent to 40 people and could include representation from Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington and Racine counties. Community representatives from the Bradley Center, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee County Zoo and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts also received invitations.

Marquette doesn’t have a stance on the arena issue just yet, but instead will wait and see how the negotiations between the task force turn out, Broeker said.

“At this point (the possibility of a new arena is) purely speculative,” Broeker said. “Certainly will be a centerpiece of discussion for the task force being put together.”

Marquette is on a 25 game winning streak at the Bradley Center, which is the second longest home winning streak in the nation behind South Dakota State. The team’s last home loss was Dec. 29, 2011 to Vanderbilt.

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