Bucks should pick Sheboygan for D-League

A rendering of the planned renovation of the Sheboygan Armory.

The BizPoll on BizTimes.com is a nice way to get reader feedback on current events. But a recent poll got an unusually large response.

The Milwaukee Bucks plan to establish a D-League team in Wisconsin. The D (Development)-League is the minor league for the NBA. The Bucks issued an RFP asking for Wisconsin cities to bid for the D-League team.

A rendering of the planned renovation of the Sheboygan Armory.
A rendering of the planned renovation of the Sheboygan Armory.

Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Grand Chute (near Appleton), La Crosse and Racine all expressed interest and were considered by the Bucks.

Our online BizPoll asked which city should be selected by the Bucks for its D-League team. The response to the question was huge. With more than 27,000 votes cast, 67 percent picked Sheboygan, 25 percent picked Oshkosh, 4 percent picked La Crosse, 1 percent picked Racine and 1 percent picked Grand Chute. The poll went viral on Facebook, especially with Sheboygan residents who shared it with their friends and encouraged votes for their city.

Since then, the Bucks have eliminated Grand Chute and La Crosse from consideration.

The Bucks should pick Sheboygan for their D-League team, and not just because of the strong response to our online poll.

The group trying to bring the D-League team to Sheboygan is led by Joe Wolf, a Kohler native and a former NBA player who played for the Bucks in 1996-’97 and was an assistant coach for the team from 2008-’13. The Sheboygan group wants to redevelop the historic Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory, built in 1942 by the Works Progress Administration. The Armory has quite a history. It was the home of the Sheboygan Red Skins professional basketball team, which was a member of the NBA during the league’s first season. The Red Skins beat the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks at the Armory that season.

For years, the Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South high school basketball teams would play against each other at the Armory in a lively neutral site atmosphere.

But in recent years, the old Armory has deteriorated and city officials have struggled to figure out what to do with it. The D-League could be the last chance to revitalize the building, which is in a great location near the lakefront, riverfront and the city’s historic downtown.

Sheboygan faces tough competition from Oshkosh, which also has a well-organized group bidding for the D-League team. Oshkosh’s big advantage is its proximity to the Fox Valley, a larger population base which could help the Bucks grow their brand in that area of the state.

But the Oshkosh group has been vague on the location for their proposed arena, saying several sites are under consideration. My fear is they would build a nice but unspectacular building in a convenient but boring location near I-41.

Sheboygan’s dramatic plan to revitalize a historic building with tremendous basketball history in the heart of that city is far more exciting.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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