Under the terms of the proposed agreement as it stands now, according to sources:
- The State of Wisconsin would pay $4 million per year - $80 million in all - to cover $55 million in bonding plus interest.
- The state would also absorb $20 million in debt from the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
- The state would be responsible for collecting another $80 million in debt currently owed to Milwaukee County.
- The City of Milwaukee would build a $35 million parking structure and provide $12 million in tax incremental financing from ancillary development near the new arena.
- The Wisconsin Center District would use its existing car rental, hotel and food and beverage taxes to pay off $93 million in bonds.
Under terms of the deal being negotiated, the boards of the Wisconsin Center District and the BMO Harris Bradley Center would be merged in to a new “super board” that would oversee the new arena and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The Marcus Center is currently owned by Milwaukee County. The Wisconsin Center District currently operates the Wisconsin Center convention center, the Milwaukee Theatre and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena. All of those downtown entertainment assets would be overseen by one board.
The Bucks are proposing to build the new arena on a site north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Along with a modern-looking, 700,000-square-foot, 17,000-seat arena, the Bucks’ plans call for a 60,000-square-foot public plaza that would exist as an entertainment site, known as the “live walk,” which would include a public space with a canopy and a beer garden at North Fourth Street and West Highland Avenue.
A mixed-use entertainment district would be built around the arena, including much of the vacant land in the Park East corridor. That development would encompass 1 million square feet, according to the Bucks’ plans, with space for hotels, residential units, offices, retail, arena parking and entertainment amenities. Additionally, the Bucks announced plans to construct a state-of-the-art practice facility on the west end of the Park East property. The Bucks’ current practice facility resides in leased space at the Archbishop Cousin Center in St. Francis.
Leading the design of the new entertainment hub is Populous, a Kansas City, Mo.-based architecture and planning firm. The Bucks have appointed Populous to oversee a group of global, national and local architects, including HNTB, also of Kansas City, and Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects.
According to architect Greg Uhen, the design of the space would create “connective tissue” that would connect the Park East property to other successful neighborhoods and developments in Milwaukee, including the former Pabst Brewery, Schlitz Park, Bronzeville, the Milwaukee Riverwalk, Old World Third Street and the Wisconsin Center District.
The principals in the negotiations hope to produce a final agreement by Friday. The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will meet in executive session on Friday at 10 a.m. in Madison. An item on the agenda of the meeting is listed as “Sports and Entertainment District.”
Two aspects of the deal that are still being negotiated include the naming rights for the new arena and an agreement about which entities would be responsible for any cost overruns for the construction project.
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International had offered in February to contribute $220 million for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would have approved of construction of a new casino hotel and casino in Kenosha. Walker, a presumed presidential candidate, rejected the Menominee proposal.
After a groundbreaking in Portage today, Walker told The Associated Press he believed an arena financing agreement is close and he is hopeful to announce it by the end of the week.
Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin, a powerful conservative advocacy group today denounced the proposed public financing plan for a new Milwaukee arena. AFP state director David Fladeboe issued the following statement: “Our position remains unchanged: the new Buck stadium proposal is still a bad deal for Wisconsin taxpayers. Government shouldn’t be in the business of financing private sports stadiums. The current deal is based on fuzzy math, complicated accounting and taxpayer dollars. Whether it comes from the state, the county, the city or other authority, these are taxpayer dollars. This proposal needs to be rejected and the people of Wisconsin need to be protected.”