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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

NBA Lockout threatens MKE businesses

The absence of the Milwaukee Bucks due to the NBA lockout has hit the pockets of several downtown businesses. Photo by Amanda Frank/[email protected]

Monday, the NBA Player’s Association rejected the league’s latest offer and began the process to decertify their union, the clearest indication yet that the 2011-12 NBA season appears on the brink of cancellation. This may seem bad for fans, but it is a nightmare scenario for Milwaukee businesses that rely on the Bucks to draw thousands downtown during the long NBA season.

The Bucks, as of Tuesday, have missed three games at the Bradley Center and will miss five more before Nov. 30. If the season is completely cancelled, the Bucks will miss 41 regular season home games and a potential playoff run, a scenario Bradley Center President and CEO Steve Costello is hoping the league can avoid.

“Right now, we remain optimistic about the return of NBA basketball … and are hoping to see a substantial part of this season,” Costello said Monday.

Though Costello declined to speculate about the impact an entire season cancellation would have on the arena, he said the Bucks generally account for 40 percent of the Bradley Center’s gross revenue each year.

“That number does illustrate the importance of the Bucks to the (Bradley Center),” Costello said.

Costello also said hundreds of people rely on the Bucks for either work or donations. He said both the employees and nonprofit organizations that rely on Bucks games to raise cash have been left empty-handed thus far, which will continue at least into December.

Costello also said the neighborhood surrounding the Bradley Center relies on the 15 to 20 thousand people the games bring downtown and will suffer as long as the lockout endures.

The Center Court Pub and Grill at 1118 N. Fourth St., one of those businesses, stands to lose around 50 percent of its winter business if the season is cancelled altogether, estimated owner Brian James.

“It hurts,” James said. “It’s only been three games so it hasn’t had a huge impact so far, but if the lockout continues there’s no way we could replace (the lost business).”

James said he thought an agreement would have been reached between the league and the players by now. The lockout began July 1 at midnight when the last collective bargaining agreement expired.

Major Goolsby’s, located at 341 W. Kilbourn Ave., a block away from the Bradley Center, has also seen a loss on nights when the Bucks were slated for a home game.

“We have for sure taken a hit on those nights when there should’ve been games,” Marty Petricca, assistant manager of the bar, said. “The Bucks are obviously one of our bigger draws.”

Petricca said Marquette also provides large crowds before and after games, but that the sheer number of Bucks games make the NBA team a significant asset for the bar.

“We’re certainly hoping they can work something out and get some games going, the games are always great for business,” he said.

The lockout, which has been framed by many as a shoving match between the millionaire players and the billionaire owners, has drawn little sympathy from those who depend on the Bucks to earn their paycheck.

Ryan Colbourn, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he is supposed to have a job ushering at Milwaukee Bucks home games, but the lockout has prevented him from working the job he needs to help supplement his job as an ambassador at Marquette games.

Colbourn said employees for the Bucks were told in an email they cannot talk about the lockout to the media.

A spokesperson for the Bucks declined to comment, citing NBA guidelines forbidding teams to comment on personnel issues during the lockout.

Costello said the Bradley Center will continue to explore all possibilities for programming on foregone Bucks game nights, but currently they are just waiting to see how the negotiations unfold.

“A cancellation of the season would be very unfortunate for all those involved,” he said.

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