Kohl seeks to add partners for new Bucks arena
Bucks owner Herb Kohl wants to add to the team’s ownership group
in hopes of building a new arena that he said would cement the
team’s long-term future in Milwaukee.
Kohl said Monday he hired a firm to help in the search for new
partners, and that any new partners who are added will have to be
equally committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee.
”I like to believe that bringing in new ownership … if it’s
done in the right way, will reinvigorate the franchise and make our
future in Milwaukee stronger and more secure,” he said.
Keeping the team in Wisconsin’s largest city would require a new
arena to replace the 25-year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center, also
home to Marquette basketball and the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL,
”Without new investors and without a new facility, would we at
some point lose the Bucks? Yes,” he said.
Kohl, who recently retired after four terms as a U.S. senator,
bought the Bucks in 1985. The team is frequently mentioned as a
candidate for a move because of the age of its arena, but
Commissioner David Stern said Kohl’s decision shows he is dedicated
to preventing that.
”With this announcement, Sen. Kohl continues his mission: to
assure continuity of Bucks ownership by broadening its ownership
base, and assuring that the fans of Wisconsin will enjoy NBA
basketball and other events in a new state-of-the-art facility,”
Kohl and Stern both said Kohl bought the team with the goal of
keeping it in Milwaukee, and that remains a priority now.
Kohl said he hadn’t identified possible partners yet, and that
the process was only in its infancy. When asked whether he’d
consider taking on a partner who demanded a majority stake, Kohl
said it was too early to commit to specifics.
Kohl, 78, said he’s in good health, but he knew he needed to
plan for the organization’s long-term future.
He also said he was willing to contribute some of his own wealth
toward the cost of a new stadium, and he hoped to secure private
funding as well.
If that happens, the team would have a firm private-sector
commitment that could provide a convincing case for the public to
finance the rest, he said.
Kohl noted that Miller Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers play,
is a fine facility but one that serves as little more than a
baseball-only venue. And Lambeau Field, home to the Green Bay
Packers, is also a one-use facility.
But the BMO Harris Bradley Center hosts 200 events per year,
including concerts and family events, so a new stadium would
benefit the entire community, not only the Bucks, he said.
Reporters asked whether potential partners would even want to
invest in a team that couldn’t consider a new area outside of
Milwaukee, or in a team that’s struggled to be competitive in
Kohl replied that his team is profitable and its value has risen
along with the values of every other NBA team. He declined to say
exactly how much his team is worth.
At 5-19, the Bucks are the worst team in the NBA. But Kohl said
they’re a part of the community – a part of his community – and he
wouldn’t let them leave, even though he knew the franchise could be
worth far more in a larger city.
”It would be a big loss for this community if we lost our NBA
franchise,” he said. ”That would be a huge step backward, for not
only Milwaukee but the surrounding communities.
”I don’t want to see that happen. And so this asset is not for
sale outside of Milwaukee.”
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.