The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) and the Milwaukee Bucks signed a lease agreement Wednesday for a new arena that will keep the team in Wisconsin for the next 30 years. The arena will serve as the centerpiece of a $1 billion development plan to transform an underused portion of the city into a vibrant, urban community that will be a catalyst for economic growth throughout the region.
"This agreement is the realization of a commitment Sen. Kohl and our owners made two years ago to Bucks fans and the entire community to keep the team in Wisconsin and help revitalize Downtown Milwaukee," Bucks President Peter Feigin said. "We’re incredibly thankful for all of the hard work that went into this historic public-private partnership from the WCD, elected officials and community leaders. This is just the beginning of our effort and we can’t wait to see the economic impact this will have on our community."
The new arena will be publicly owned by the Wisconsin Center District and operated by the Milwaukee Bucks, who have committed to annual lease payments totaling approximately $45 million during the life of the agreement. In addition to bearing the responsibility for any cost overruns during the construction of the facility, the Bucks will be responsible for all operating, maintenance and capital repair expenses. The Bucks have agreed to deposit a cumulative $60 million minimum into a capital improvements fund for the arena over the 30-year term of the lease.
In addition to annual lease payments, the arena is expected to generate revenue for both the WCD and state from a $2 ticket surcharge on all arena events, while the city, county and state will all benefit from an estimated $634 million in income tax revenue over the life of the lease from Bucks players and staff, as well as those from visiting NBA teams. The lease also includes a non-relocation agreement between the Bucks and the WCD that ensures the team will play all its home games in Milwaukee for the next 30 years.
The new arena will be the centerpiece of a 27-acre retail and entertainment district in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee that is expected to include an additional $500 million worth of private investment. The Bucks have already begun to invest in a new $30 million training facility adjacent to the new arena.
The new Bucks arena was designed by Populous, Eppstein Uhen and HNTB. The team submitted detailed design plans to the city in March and is expected to break ground on the project this summer. To see renderings or learn more about the project, visit bucks.com/arena.