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,

he said.

”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,”

Stern said.

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

recent seasons.

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

this report.

Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.