If you’re not growing you’re dying

“I will not comment on politics, but I will comment on common sense and the greater good.”

There is a hot-button topic at the moment going on in Wisconsin surrounding the surprisingly resurgent Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise.  No, they’re not going to the finals and no they’re not trading for Lebron James.  The issue at hand is the viability of the team, it’s city and the future of Wisconsin’s largest city.  You see, the Bucks need a new arena and it will cost a lot of money.  If they don’t get this new arena the team will leave the city – that cannot be disputed by anyone on any side of the issue.

Let me start off by saying that I am not an NBA fan – it’s hard to watch in my opinion.  That doesn’t stop me from rooting for my local/state teams though…that’s called pride.  I always said that the best thing Herb Kohl ever did as owner of the Bucks was selling the Bucks…think about that for a minute.  The apathy surrounding the Bucks in Milwaukee and Wisconsin was at an all time high only two years ago.  “Let ’em go!” was the far too often heard response from people when discussing the moribund franchise. Hell, I even thought that myself…

Fast forward only 24 months and the excitement around the team is palpable – gone is the bumbling, mediocre ownership replaced with 2 guys who are hell-bent on turning around the Bucks brand as soon as they can.  They have a hot new coach, an incredibly young but extremely gifted team and they are on the cusp of getting a new state of the art arena…or are they?

I will not comment on politics, but I will comment on common sense and the greater good.  The arena and downtown revitalization proposal that the new Bucks owners have laid out is ambitious, grandiose and somewhat over the top – this is precisely the kind of thinking and vision that the city of Milwaukee needs.  Milwaukee is teetering on the brink of becoming a rust belt city where infrastructure is breaking down, companies are leaving and the cold climate already puts them down a notch in terms of being a destination city.

I don’t know the exact figures about how much money the owners are fronting and how much money they are asking the public to take on – I’m not going to go there.  This is an investment in the team, the city, the state and the people.  Investments DO NOT pay dividends the next day – that’s why they’re called investments…you need to give something to get something and it takes time.  I don’t like taxes – NOBODY likes taxes.  I live in Green Bay, 200 miles away from Milwaukee so my stake is less than the local contingent.  Question: would I want to visit Milwaukee if the city and state agrees to transform it into a true destination city with shops, new business and a state of the art sports & entertainment venue?…You bet your ass I would.  It’s simple:

  • Option A: arena funding fails
    • team leaves town
    • Small markets NEVER get professional sports franchises back if they lose them…don’t kid yourself
    • Milwaukee falls further behind in the mid west – if you’re not growing as a city, you are dying as a city
  • Option B: arena funding passes
    • tax payers on the hook for minimal sum (still a sum though)
    • Bucks continue to grow as a team and brand in their home city
    • Downtown becomes revitalized

This isn’t a multiple choice question – you can’t have both.  Let’s do the right thing – let’s invest in our city, our state and our team.

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