City officials, Bucks close to deal for new $500M arena

By
Updated: May 27, 2015
Bucks new logo

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin, city officials and Wisconsin state legislators all say they are close to reaching a deal to pay for a new $500 million arena for the NBA team.

The goal is to announce a deal Wednesday, said Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. Nygren’s committee is finalizing the state budget this week and intends to include a Bucks financing component.

Talks have been ongoing for months to come up with a way to pay for the arena that’s part of a planned $1 billion entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee. Without a new stadium by 2017, the NBA has said it will buy back the team and relocate it.

No one has said publicly what the terms of any deal would look like. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said after Tuesday’s meeting that the state’s contribution would be “significantly less” than the $220 million Gov. Scott Walker initially proposed in January.

Republicans in control of the Legislature have said they want the state portion to be only around $150 million.

Current and former Bucks owners have committed $250 million for the new arena, with the city and county putting in the remaining $30 million. There is no concrete funding proposal from the county, while the city has come up with about an $18 million package and argued it’s already spent millions getting the proposed site ready for construction.

Much of the closed-door discussions have focused on the level of contributions from Milwaukee city and county. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday described the funding deal as “very complicated.”

“I remain optimistic, but there’s work to be done,” said Barrett, a Democrat who lost twice to Walker in 2010 and 2012. Walker has met with those brokering a deal for the Bucks at least once, but his spokeswoman did not say whether he was at Tuesday’s meeting held in his conference room at the Capitol.

“I think everybody’s on the same page,” Feigin said after Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re trying to get this done.”