Talk of the siting of a new arena is in full swing now. It seems like all of Milwaukee is a-buzz.
Some folks are wondering if the block bordered by 3rd and 4th Streets, State and Kilbourn, is the main focus, especially with Goolsby's applying for a license for a Turner Hall bar and restaurant. (Today's article in the daily paper about how terrible the Milwaukee Theatre is could be read as another potential clue -- either pro or con -- for this site, which could be combined with the blocks to the west into a megasite.)
Others seem eager for a Wisconsin Avenue site, between 4th and 5th, that would also include part of the Grand Avenue.
One has to wonder if the anonymous winner of last week's auction of The Shops of Grand Avenue was the Bucks or a related entity. I hope not. Because though some say that the historic buildings between 2nd and 4th Streets that are part of the mall wouldn't be demolished in the Wisconsin Avenue plan, I'm not sure how that would be ensured.
Anyway, it seems a given that 4th Street would have to be closed off between Michigan and Wisconsin and that's a bad idea, too. There are already only two Downtown streets between the river and I-43 that run all the way from St. Paul to Juneau.
If they close 4th Street for new arena, there will be one: 6th Street. And please don't tell me they'd keep 4th Street open by building one of those tunnels like the one that has killed any hope for street life on Wells, between 4th and 6th Streets.
Everyone's saying we've got one chance to do this right. So, yes, please, let's do this right.
With a Downtown littered with open or already-arena-occupied space, why is there any effort to shoehorn something in where it doesn't fit? Some have said that the Park East site is a non-starter, but I believe Milwaukee will miss an opportunity by ruling out the Park East, or even the adjacent, mostly vacant, parcel of land just north of the BC, south of Juneau Avenue.
To build an arena in the Park East, the city would only have to re-vacate the long vacated block of 5th Street, which only runs as far south as the Bradley Center a block south at Highland Avenue, anyway. There's easy freeway access via McKinley Avenue, which has ramps accessing I-43, and the land is already vacant and cleared.
Developers could revamp the current BC site and the new arena could become a vital link to The Brewery to the west, Water Street -- and the growing scene on 3rd Street -- to the east and, to the south, a new BC development, the Milwaukee Theatre, UWM Panther Arena and the Wisconsin Center.
Hopefully, that would also lead to something good happening across from the Wisconsin Center at the 4th and Wisconsin site, which, in turn, could jolt the western side of The Shops of Grand Avenue back to life.
Plus, there would still likely be at least one square block of Park East land -- maybe more -- that could be developed into arena amenities or entertainment, if there is demand. And think of the potential for jump-starting development in the Haymarket to the north.
Believing everything Downtown has to be on Wisconsin Avenue seems sorta like a 1950s idea.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.