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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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In Sports

The Milwaukee Wave committed to joining the Professional Arena Soccer League.

Wave commits to new league, gets extension on lease terms


OnMilwaukee.com has learned that the Milwaukee Wave has been granted an extension until mid-May to decide on whether it will agree to an extension for its lease at the U. S. Cellular Arena while committing to join the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL).

Kevin Milliken, the commissioner of the PASL, said he had talked with Wave owner Sue Black last week.

"She told me that everything was set and that they wanted to join the league next season," Milliken said. "We are thrilled to have them in our league."

The PASL will be a 20-team league and will play a 20-game season.

"The key thing for us is that our teams generate enough revenue to meet their expenses," Milliken said. "The Wave generates revenue. But they can control their expenses, and that's what we want to see."

The Wave pays $5,526 per game and $4,000 if it's a daytime student game.

"That's just about our cost," said a source with the Wisconsin Center District, which operates the U.S. Cellular Arena. "She's got a very good deal here. But she wanted until May to extend the lease. We said fine, but we aren't in the business of subsidizing a team so there's no room for us to change the lease."

The expectation, according to one source, is that Black is looking for additional funds from Michael Zimmerman, head of Zimmerman Ventures and the developer of The Rock recreational complex in Franklin. Zimmerman has reportedly been instrumental in financially supporting the Wave and Black.

Neither Zimmerman nor Black responded to requests for comment Monday afternoon.

But one of the examples of the Wave getting a handle on expenses, according to Milliken, was the release of Coach Keith Tozer. Tozer was highly paid but was also responsible for signing players and determining their contracts.

"One of the things we want our teams to do is to keep their salary structure in line," Milliken said. "Sure, you want to pay the top players enough so they make a living. But after them, there are dozens and dozens of guys who could play. We want our teams to keep that in mind.

"We think there will be a natural rivalry between the Wave and the Chicago team, which just signed a new contract for their building. This league is in a growth mode, and the Wave are part of that."

Tozer has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday to announce his plans. One hot rumor – and it's only a rumor – is that he may go to work for Zimmerman in a prominent role at the recreational complex in Franklin.


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