Via email today, Ben Koller, who I shared an office with for a while and did my small part to help with his awesome MECCA project, reached out to me and others in the media to let us know that he's selling the historic MECCA basketball floor.
If you don't know the story, click here for the "30 for 30" documentary short or here for the first OnMilwaukee.com (and first in the market) story on the floor's sale.
Personally, I truly feel that this floor should "live and breathe" somewhere in Milwaukee. It makes sense to somehow integrate it into a new Downtown arena or convention center expansion. I'll hopeful it can happen. Obviously, Ben Koller wants to sell it to make it happen too.
Here's his statement.
"Since the day my father purchased the MECCA Floor he was set upon the idea that I
was the perfect person to lead the charge. On a surface level it made sense. I was a
basketball fanatic throughout my scholastic years and then became enamored with the
art of creativity in my twenties. Yet I couldn’t quite figure out why he was so adamant
about me leading this endeavor, especially during the most turbulent time of my life.
The last time we spent together, the day before he died, my father gave me a key insight
as to why he was choosing me. It was bigger than just finding a permanent home for
the MECCA Floor, it was about finding a purpose for my life. I know that sounds a bit
esoteric. At the time I felt the same way, but now as I write these words I sit in awe at
the wisdom of a man seeking the best for his son and offering him a path to create his
own clarity in life.
Over the past three and a half years I’ve dedicated my life to honoring my father’s
request. I’ve literally bled, sweat and tear’d along this quest. Like a lump of coal is
transformed into a diamond under immense pressure, the MECCA Floor molded and
shaped me into the man my father always knew I could become. Because of this
process alone I can move forward with my life knowing that I honored the gift that my
father offered me.
The MECCA Project has reached a point where I feel that in order for it to move forward
Ben Koller must step aside. The MECCA Floor requires a permanent home and I can
no longer allow the floor to sit idle and waste away in a warehouse because I’m the sole
decider of what happens with it. The MECCA Floor is a historical artifact that I would like
to see displayed during Robert Indiana’s lifetime, and in order to do this I will be seeking
new ownership for the floor.
My intention is to find a new owner committed to permanently and publicly
displaying the floor intact in a way that as many people as possible can experience its
beauty and magnificent history. I’m open to all possibilities and will be seeking various
opportunities throughout the world, with a preference to keep it in Milwaukee.
The time has come for the MECCA Floor and Ben Koller to part ways in order that we
both may fulfill our unique purposes. I’m extremely confident that this transition will
unfold as it’s meant to and I will be able to look back with appreciation and reverence for
the adventurous journey that is the MECCA Floor."
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.