NBA contraction is a real possibility, especially in Milwaukee
It's understandable that we Wisconsin sports fans currently have tunnel vision with the Brewers running for a pennant and the Packers starting their quest for a repeat.
But there is one more thing going on that, in the long run, might prove to be even more important to the sports climate in Milwaukee.
The word is "contraction." And as the contract negotiations continue in the NBA, you are going to hear more and more about it. It may well be a real threat to Milwaukee.
The NBA has 30 teams. About half of them lose money. The rich teams, which don't want to share any of their money with the poor teams, wouldn't mind if the NBA went to 28 or 27 teams. Get rid of two or three of them, and then maybe expand into cities more likely to be money makers.
Recently Commissioner David Stern, your basic dictator with a short guy complex (can anyone spell Napoleon?), was asked about contraction.
"Actually, it's not a subject we are against," Stern said, referring to contraction. "In fact when you are talking about revenue sharing, a number of teams have said that if you have a team that is perpetually going to be a recipient, aren't you better off with the ability to buy them in? Because between the revenue sharing and the split of international and TV money, we could almost buy them in with their own money."
The three teams most often mentioned when it comes to contraction are the Sacramento Kings, the Charlotte Bobcats and the New Orleans Hornets. But I've got doubts about that. The Bobcats are run by legend Michael Jordan. The Kings are being boosted by a charismatic mayor and former NBA star, Kevin Johnson. And the Hornets, well, the Hornets have Chris Paul and are in New Orleans, the Big Easy.
To say that politics will play a big role in this is like saying Candace Swanepool is a pretty girl. Duh!
If the rich boys get their way, aided and abetted by the slithery commissioner, one of the likely candidates for contraction (read elimination) could very well be the Milwaukee Bucks.
According to Forbes Magazine, which might or not be right, the Bucks are the lowest valued team in the NBA at something over just $250 million. That estimate, and let's be real clear that this is only an estimate, is based on a lot of things including building situation (age, lease terms, amenities, revenue producing elements), the size of the media market and existing media revenues, season ticket base, player contract values (debt to value ratio) and something intangible called the excitement factor.
The top team in value is, no surprise, the New York Knicks who are somewhere in the neighborhood of $650 million. They are followed by Los Angeles Lakers who are about $10 million behind. Twenty-two of the 30 NBA teams have value over $300 million. So, the Bucks are playing in high cotton and seem to be a likely candidate for contraction talks.
Among other things, the Milwaukee media market is shrinking, their arena is out of date, their potential revenue producers are very limited, and their excitement factor is, how shall we say this, less than ideal.
In addition, the owner of the Bucks, Senator Herb Kohl, is winding down. He's retiring from the Senate and he's entertained some offers recently to buy the team but never went far in the talks because potential suitors would not guarantee the team would remain in Milwaukee. Plus, Kohl and Stern are not on the same page regarding most issues. The only things they have in common is that they are both short, rich guys. The biggest difference is that Kohl is very, very nice and very, very loyal. Stern is the exact opposite.
I don't think there is much that we fans can do about the course of this action, short of having a major effort to buy season tickets and hope that by doubling the season ticket base the league won't mess with us. We could, of course, hope for a revolt against Stern and send him off to the Hamptons in unhappy retirement.
I know there are people out there who may say good riddance to the Bucks. But those people are short-sighted and ignorant. This is the big leagues. And it's much better to play in the big leagues than it is to be the Quad Cities.
Yes, Fear the Deer. But when David Stern's around, The Deer Should Fear. Pay attention to these negotiations. For Milwaukee, it's about a lot more than just a new collective bargaining agreement.
Hey MR2012, you said: "studies indicate that investing that sort of money in an arena is a net loser" - have you ever heard of a place called Miller Park?
In my comment last week on "contracting" different sports, I mentioned this matter. I gues it's just a coincidence that Begel used it for this week's piece. No matter. If Senator Kohl is sincere, he should propose paying 50% of the costs of a new BC (like the packers did). Then we can start talking.
I love the Bucks, but have a hard time honestly disagreeing with the possibility we might be gone in a few years. Maybe it's why I still go to 12-15 games a season in hopes that my support will help or at the very least I take advantage of this team while it is here. Kohl really dropped the ball by trading Ray Allen. He should've spent his whole career here. Bringing in guys like Stephen Jackson & Drew Gooden sure isn't going to help attendance numbers either. Talent wins yes, but those guys are knuckleheads and unlikable thugs. Jennings is a star in the making and Bogut has a personality, but is not liked in the basketball community by those needing "street cred". In the end Jennings is the only one who can really sell tickets and he'll only make a real impact if he elevates his play to a near all star level and quick.
Who cares? The only people who can afford to go to games are corporate ticket holders...unless you want the cheap seats....I would feel bad for the employees who work the bradley center...but the NBA is boring...the season is too long and the city doesn't care about them.
Show me the other Talkback
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