Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:15 pm
Marc Lasry addressed the MMAC board of directors this week to discuss the future of the Milwaukee Bucks and the need for a new arena. When asked by a board member what the fallback plan was if we don’t have a new downtown entertainment center to host the Bucks, he noted, “There is really no fallback plan.”
The purchase of the Bucks came with the condition (placed by the NBA) that a new venue was necessary to keep the team in Milwaukee beyond 2017. In short, the dream of owning an NBA team for Lasry and Wes Endens is inextricably tied to Milwaukee’s future as an NBA market.
The prospects of developing a new venue were boosted by Sen. Herb Kohl’s generous $100 million dollar gift, matched by the new owners at a minimum of $100 million. While there is certain to be controversy in the effort to secure some public financing, there is a finality to the decisions made by our state and local governmental leaders.
The MMAC board views this project as more than a new place to play basketball, as MMAC chairman Ted Kellner, chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Management, put it, “This is a generational opportunity to drive significant development, enhance the region’s economic attractiveness and keep in place one of our best global marketing assets.”
The MMAC has been working to develop plans for a new entertainment center, as well as supporting the broader effort to identify funding for our key regional cultural institutions. All under the banner of making Milwaukee “sticky” by improving its quality of life to retain and attract the talent that drives our economy.
Talent was also part of the discussion with the new owners. Speaking of the upcoming draft, Lasry noted, “You become an expert on the history of draft picks.” Right now good players would say, “Why come here? The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA.” But according to Lasry, “We have the best under 23 (age) team in the league, if we make the right picks, in the next two-three years, we can get good free agents to come to this market.”
Lasry further noted, “Look, we need a little luck in the draft, but we will hold this organization accountable, do our planning and execute on getting an NBA championship back to Milwaukee. Luck favors those who are prepared.”
Economic prosperity favors those metro area’s that are prepared. We can’t rely on luck to fuel our growth, we need to aggressively improve our assets. A new downtown entertainment center hosting concerts, elite college basketball, events, and a global brand like the NBA is an asset worth protecting. That is part of our game plan.
Tim Sheehy is president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.