Bucks to host training camp, play preseason game in Madison
On Monday, (from left) Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, general manager John Hammond and broadcaster Jon McGlocklin joined men's basketball coach Bo Ryan and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and their young teammates will get to experience a little bit of college this fall.
Bucks officials took a field trip to Madison on Monday, where they sought to convince Capitol lawmakers to spend $250 million to help finance a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, while also teaming up with the University of Wisconsin in an effort to show they’re relevant throughout the state.
As team president Peter Feigin told the Legislature’s budget committee about the potential economic benefits of an arena, high-profile Bucks and Badgers leaders were across town at the Kohl Center, announcing that the NBA team would host training camp, as well as play a preseason game, on the UW campus this fall.
The Bucks are scheduled to hold a week of their 2015 training camp there, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, and play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 20. It will be their first appearance in Madison since 1999.
On Monday afternoon, Bucks general manager John Hammond, head coach Jason Kidd and broadcaster Jon McGlocklin joined Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan on the court at the Kohl Center to hail the agreement.
"The passion for basketball in Madison is unparalleled, not only throughout the state but across the country," Hammond said. "The Bucks proudly represent the entire state of Wisconsin. We’re beyond excited to bring Bucks basketball to the capital and reconnect with the amazing fans at the Kohl Center."
Alvarez echoed the sentiment.
"We’re thrilled to welcome the Bucks back to Madison this fall," University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said. "I know that basketball fans in our area will enjoy the exhibition game and we’re pleased to have an up-and-coming team like the Bucks in our facilities and around our city."
The arrangement capitalizes on the buzz surrounding both basketball teams, as the Bucks are a rising group that vastly outperformed expectations last season — the first year with Kidd and an energetic new ownership group — and last week agreed to terms with big-name free agent Greg Monroe. As for the Badgers, they’re coming off the most successful season in program history, when they went 36-4 and made it to the NCAA tournament title game. Two Wisconsin players, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, were recently selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
In the early years of the franchise, the Bucks regularly took the court in Madison. They played 25 regular season games, seven playoff contests and five preseason exhibitions there during the 1960s and 70s. In the 1980s, Milwaukee played three preseason games in the state capital and then two more in the 90s, but none since 1999.
Prior to the game against the Timberwolves, who boast the past two No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Bucks will have training camp at the Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion on the Wisconsin campus. According to an official release, the team will have a "visible presence in the community throughout the week."
Antetokounmpo, who was drafted directly out of Greece, and Parker, who turned pro after one year at Duke, are Milwaukee’s two biggest stars, a pair of 20-year-old phenoms that electrified the fan base earlier this summer during the Bucks’ block party. The team’s projected starting lineup of Monroe, Parker, Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Michael Carter-Williams has an average age of 22.2 years.
On Monday, Feigin told lawmakers that the team’s goal, in order to satisfy a league deadline and not leave Milwaukee, is to break ground on a new arena by October or November. If that’s the case, the Bucks will likely know their NBA future when they convene in Madison for training camp.