With new design plans for the Milwaukee Bucks arena to be unveiled in the next several days, Peter Feigin, president of the professional basketball franchise, exuded nothing but enthusiasm during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday about the future of the team and what its impact will be not only in Milwaukee and statewide but across the globe.
“Awesome,” he said. “This is going to be miraculous.” But that will come to pass only with hard work, not only on the basketball court but throughout every aspect of what the does, Feigin told a large audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall.
Milwaukee? Feigin said the team wants to do all it can to connect with the city, including connecting its players with the youth of the city and increasing its philanthropic work focused on youth, wellness, and education. And the new arena and the team’s operations as a whole will mean several thousand full-time jobs in the city.
Wisconsin? The Bucks want to be “Wisconsin’s team” in the way the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers have become Wisconsin’s teams in their sports.
The world? The National Basketball Association is an international enterprise in ways that Major League Baseball and the National Football League are not, Feigin said, and the Bucks can become a popular team in places such as China, where there is huge interest in basketball.
“There are no more small markets,” Feigin said, given what the digital world can do to build a following. But you have to be smart and good, and your team needs to be a winner, and that is truer in a place such as Milwaukee than in a megalopolis such as New York. (Feigin was vice president of marketing for the New York Knicks in a previous job.)
Feigin said every “touch point” for fans needs to be good. It’s not just the team on the court, it’s the quality of the food fans are buying, the cleanliness of bathrooms at the arena, and the entire experience fans have, both in person and following from afar.
Feigin said he is excited about what the new arena will bring in ways that go beyond the Bucks’ games. The franchise wants the arena to host perhaps 200 events a year, he said, about four times the number of Bucks’ game. That would include concerts, conventions, and gatherings of many kinds, he said.
And the surrounding area will be a tourism and entertainment center, with thousands of people living nearby, as Feigin envisioned it. It will be a magnet for bringing people to Milwaukee and making Milwaukee residents and businesses feel like they’re in a first class city.
“This is economic development 101,” he said, offering his expectations of the effects the project will have.
Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, asked if the $500 million projected cost of the arena was realistic. “It’ll be very hard” to complete the project for that amount, Feigin said. “Everything over, we pay for it,” he added, referring to the agreement with the state, county, and city governments that includes $250 million in public funding and $250 million (or more) in funding from the team. That includes $150 million from the current owners and $100 million from former owner Herb Kohl.
For this year, the goal is improvement on all fronts, Feigin said. And by the time the new arena opens in 2018? Feigin made it clear the goals are both big and exciting.
Video of the one-hour program may be viewed by clicking here.