"This is the beginning of making this real," said Milwaukee Bucks' president Peter Feigin, who, along with Mike Fascitelli of the ownership group, and architects Brad Clark of Populous and Greg Uhen of Eppstein Uhen (and Mark Kaminski, a senior planer at HNTB Corp.'s Milwaukee office) officially unveiled the preliminary renderings of what a new multi-purpose arena and Downtown entertainment district could look like.
The plan called for the district to be built in the currently undeveloped areas north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and in the BMOHBC’s current location once it's demolished.
"We’re not inventing something brand new here," said Fascitelli, the former chief executive officer and president of Vorndado Realty Trust in New York, which owned the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and office structures around Madison Square Garden in New York.
"We’re just trying to take the best ideas and bring them up to 2020, and ’15, and basically implement them."
Bucks co-owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry were not at the press conference. A team spokesman said Edens was en route to Milwaukee for the game tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
No city or county leaders spoke, but president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy did attend.
Other important notes:
- There was also no announcement that, officially, the team or any management company had purchased the vacant land north of the BMOHBC. That land is still for sale.
- There was no update on the advancement of public funding for the remaining half of what Fascitelli called a billion dollar district.
- The design firms stressed that the renderings were very "preliminary," and that while the streetcar project has been considered, the details of that project weren’t firm enough to full incorporate it into the renderings.
- The renderings also predicted the closure of 4th St. for a plaza that would lead into the 17,000-seat arena.
Feigin and Fascitelli said the hope is that this district can connect a variety of neighborhoods and structures, and will include all kinds of development.
"We think things like super markets are as important as residential, or is as important as commercial and parking," Feigin said. "So this is truly an urban plan."
Milwaukee-based ScopeBridge, LLC, created a 2D model for OnMilwaukee.com to show how it could connect the new arena area to the river – an important part of the owner’s plan, dating back to the group’s initial interest in the Journal Square.
(Graphic key: 1. New Buck Arena. 2. New entertainment plaza. 3. New potential mixed use development. 4. Potential riverfront raised plaza (over existing parking). 5. Potential raised pedestrian connections.)
The Bucks hold out hope to begin the construction process in the fall if a budget is ratified in late June, with an opening of the arena in 2017.
"We’ve had great support from Madison, we’ve had great support from the county, we’ve had great support from the city," Feigin said. "This is one of the steps that gets us much closer to actually having a plan and an agreeable next step."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.