That includes $400 million to $450 million for a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center, $300 million to $400 million to expand the Wisconsin Center (the downtown Milwaukee convention center), $246 million for Milwaukee County arts, cultural and parks facilities and about $64 million for privately-owned arts and cultural facilities in Milwaukee County.
Click here to read the full Public Policy Forum report.
"Overall, there is little question that Milwaukee County's quality-of-life amenities have substantial facility needs, and that those needs are exacerbating operating challenges," said Public Policy Forum president Rob Henken. "Whether the needs of these institutions rise above those facing other important community assets-such as schools, transportation systems, and law enforcement agencies- is a subjective question that is beyond the scope of assessment. Our findings do suggest, however, that if Milwaukee is interested in building upon its national reputation as a city that mixes small-town virtues with big-city amenities, then additional public investment in its existing array of arts, cultural, and entertainment venues likely will be required."
The release of the report comes one day before the first meeting of the 48-member Cultural Entertainment Needs Task Force, which was established by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) to examine the capital needs of the Milwaukee area's cultural and entertainment institutions and to examine potential funding sources to address those needs.
Capital improvement needs for Milwaukee County owned facilities include: $68 million for the Milwaukee County Zoo, $36.5 million for the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, $27.7 million for the Milwaukee Public Museum, $25.7 million for the Milwaukee Art Museum/War Memorial and $43 million for the Milwaukee County parks, the report says. The parks also need an additional $39 million in repairs and maintenance, so the total capital needs for the parks is about $82 million, according to the report.
A new arena is needed to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee long term and if the Bucks left Milwaukee the aging Bradley Center would face severe financial challenges. A recent cover story in BizTimes Milwaukee examined the Bucks' situation and the challenges facing the Bradley Center.
Also today, the Bradley Center released its annual financial report, which says that the facility had $20.7 million in operating revenue in fiscal 2013, up from $12.6 million in fiscal 2012. The 64 percent revenue increase was a result of a state grant, contributions from the Champions of the Community funding campaign, more Bucks games compared to the lockout season in fiscal 2012 and the Bucks appearance in the playoffs earlier this year.
The Bradley Center spent $4.9 million in fiscal 2013 to maintain and care for the building. The facility is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, that report said.
"We work hard to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable fan experience, but as far as buildings go, the BMO Harris Bradley Center is a senior citizen," said Steve Costello, president and CEO of the Bradley Center. "It is becoming more and more difficult to maintain the building, and a stable financial position, amid the challenges that we face. The uncertainty surrounding the center's future adds to our challenges, and we are trying to do what we can with extremely limited resources."
In November, Costello told BizTimes Milwaukee that the Bradley Center needs $25 million to $40 million in repair and maintenance, with no existing plan to pay for it.
More than 1.4 million people visited the Bradley Center in fiscal 2013 for 161 events, according to the facility's financial report.