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Things Looking Good for Milwaukee Fans

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Significant private investment in a proposed arena could be enough to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee

Edited by Tiffany Villigan

Staying put?
Staying put?
Andy Lyons

I think Milwaukee is going to get this done. I really do. If so, I will be happy for Milwaukee fans. I really will.

An article at Journaltimes.com is one reason why. In short, it says that the Bucks are close to having a site and funding for a new arena.

If this report is true, it would show that the Bucks ownership group, led by Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, is everything for Milwaukee fans that the Maloof brothers weren't for Sacramento fans and that the Clay Bennett group wasn't for Seattle fans. It would show that, instead of looking for ways to poison the well with funding plans that everyone knows would be a non-starter, they are looking for ways to keep the team where it is and not break any more hearts.

Getting public funding will be a hard sell in Wisconsin's current political climate, but that may not matter as much as people think. In essence, the article says that ownership is on pace to come up with significantly more private dollars for the arena than anyone previously envisioned. Here is a passage (I've bolded the good parts):

The new arena is expected to cost in the vicinity of $420 million. At a press conference in April, when Wes Edens and Marc Lasry were introduced as the new Bucks owners after acquiring the franchise from Herb Kohl for a reported $550 million, it was also announced Edens and Lasry would contribute $100 million toward the construction as would Kohl.

Sources now claim Edens and Lasry have actually contributed more than that amount and Jamie Dinan, who became a majority owner in July, has also made a major financial contribution as well.

While Edens, Lasry, Dinan and Kohl have now contributed an estimated $300 million toward the new arena project -- or nearly three-fourths of the projected cost -- nearly a dozen minority owners have also contributed financially.

This jives with other things that I've heard, and one gets the sense that Lasry and Edens are bound and determined to get this done. I would not be shocked if, in the case that no public money is offered, the group paid for the whole kit and caboodle on its own.

I am far from a financial expert, but dollars and sense would seem to make this logical for them. They bought the team for $550 million. Many think the franchise is now worth a billion or more, but if they don't get this done, the NBA has a contractual right to buy the team for $575 million and sell it to anyone it wants in any market it wants. That's a $25 million profit that would actually be a loss when you consider the current worth of the team.

Theoretically, the ownership group could add $425 million on top of its current $550 million investment and would have complete ownership of the team and arena (with all revenues) for about the current value of the team alone.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. I think things are truly looking up for basketball fans in Milwaukee and I, for one, am happy about that.

What does this mean for Seattle? I don't know. I would take a team in any form it was offered, but my preference is through expansion and not heartbreak. Here's hoping that Adam Silver's public stance on the subject is different than his private one.