Greater Milwaukee Foundation to steward Kohl’s gift toward arena


Former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl has designated the Greater Milwaukee Foundation the steward of the $100 million gift he plans to make toward the development of a new downtown arena.


The $100 million, which Kohl announced in April when he also announced the Bucks’ new owners, is the largest gift the foundation has ever received and falls as the organization prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2015.

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“Because of their long history of working with donors to strengthen the region, I am pleased to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to help me fulfill my promise to the community we cherish,” Kohl said in a statement. “As GMF looks ahead to its exciting next chapter of service to our community, and with the Bucks’ commitment to keep Milwaukee an NBA city, now is the time to keep the momentum and excitement growing for the future of downtown development and to preserve this important asset for our state.”

The foundation, which aids donors in achieving their philanthropic goals, will partner with Kohl to allocate the $100 million toward a new arena in line with his pledge. The NBA has mandated that Milwaukee have a new arena constructed by November 2017 in order to keep the Bucks.

“We will work with Senator Kohl to carry out his intent with the gift,” said Ellen Gilligan, GMF president and CEO. “He is both hopeful and expectant that there will be a new arena, and I think that that is part of his visionary gift for the future of downtown Milwaukee.”

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Should a new arena not come to fruition by the NBA’s deadline, Gilligan said the foundation will aid Kohl in redirecting his vision of his gift.

“We will work with Senator Kohl as we would with any donor to carry out his charitable purposes,” Gilligan said. “This is a charitable gift, so it will remain a charitable gift.”

This is the first gift GMF has ever stewarded from Kohl, though Gilligan has known Kohl since she arrived in Milwaukee.

It is “very exciting” for the foundation to receive a gift of this size, particularly at the dawn of one of its most significant years, she said.

“$100 million on the eve of our 100th anniversary is just a fabulous way to start our centennial year, and it just reinforces for us the importance of our donors and strengthening our community and what role we can play in helping them carry out their philanthropic goals,” Gilligan said.

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