Bucks arena, parking and training facilities get final design approval

Groundbreaking set for June 18

Rendering of Milwaukee Bucks Arena in downtown Milwaukee

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:14 pm

With no fanfare or discussion, the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday approved the final design for the Milwaukee Bucks arena, parking structure and practice facility, paving the way for a June 18 groundbreaking.

Rendering of Milwaukee Bucks Arena in downtown Milwaukee
Rendering of Milwaukee Bucks Arena in downtown Milwaukee

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin was present at the meeting, but didn’t need to speak as the council approved the items as part of a package of ordinances.

“Today’s vote represents another significant milestone in this historic public/private partnership to transform downtown Milwaukee,” Feigin said in a statement issued by the Bucks after the council vote. “Now that we’ve cleared this final hurdle, we can truly get to work on creating jobs, driving economic growth, and building a world-class sports and entertainment district that will be a lasting symbol for the region. We look forward to welcoming fans from around the state on June 18 as we officially break ground on the arena and celebrate our collective efforts to build a better Milwaukee.”

At the council meeting Alderman Nik Kovac did briefly express his opposition against the parking structure plan. Kovac also voted against the parking structure last week at the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee meeting because the designs don’t include future apartments that the Bucks have said will be part of the development.

The $524 million, 714,000-square-foot arena is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

The Bucks arena site is approximately 6.7 acres bounded by Highland and Juneau avenues and Fourth and Sixth streets. A portion of Fourth Street, adjacent to the arena, between Highland and Juneau avenues will serve as the “Live Block” entertainment plaza, which the team will also develop.

Construction will also begin on the Buck’s new 55,000-square-foot training center in June. The facility, bounded by West Winnebago Street, North Sixth Street and McKinley Avenue, will include two full-sized courts, a weight room, a hydrotherapy and medical training area, video replay viewing space, a full-service kitchen and parking for the players.

Once the training center is completed in July 2017, the Bucks will vacate their training facilities at the Cousins Center in St. Francis, where they have practiced since 1997.

The 1,243-space parking structure will include mixed-use components, including 10,000 square feet of retail space along Juneau Avenue and 11,000 square feet of office space along McKinley Avenue. The city will own the parking structure when it is completed in October 2017.

The mixed-use spaces will initially be designed as shell spaces, according to the Bucks. Approximately 100,000 square feet of apartment units with first floor retail or office space is also planned along North Sixth Street, although the residential component is not included in the initial project.

Financing for the $524 million arena includes a $47 million tax incremental financing district created by the city of Milwaukee. The state and Milwaukee County are each responsible for paying $55 million and the remaining $93 million is being funded by the Wisconsin Center District’s tax on food and beverage, hotels and car rental.

The Milwaukee Bucks current and former owners will pay the remaining cost of the project, including any cost overruns.

The Wisconsin Center District will own the new arena, under a state law passed in 2015, once it is complete. Last week, the Wisconsin Center District board approved three public bond sales they believe will raise $203 million to pay for its portion of the arena project.

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