Working into Doug Out mode…
Welcome back to Doug Out, a column about the business and politics of sports that was recently seen in the ether world on Inside Wisconsin Sports.
For these missives we’re going to look at what runs sports—money and politics, the two front wheels that drive any car. We’ll see stadium fights (the biggest consumers of money and politics) salary wars, tax dodges and sometimes show the light on the sport of sports for some sporting fun.
And we’re not about getting off the couch and hitting the outdoors for some action as well. Fish, game, horse tracks, the great outdoors, indeed. We won’t even need a road to get there. Sometimes the editor lets me use the plane.
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Waking up the contents of the Bradley Center in Milwaukee is now a top priority for the Milwaukee Bucks. The city’s business elite could be found back slapping and glad handing earlier in May after it was announced that the BC would be called the BMO Harris Bradley Center with the Bradley heirs’ blessing.
The deal with BMO is for about a million dollars a year and other Milwaukee corporate titans such as Harley-Davidson, Kohl’s and Northwestern Mutual are chipping in enough to make it $18 million over six years. The thinking is that it will take six years to get a new BC built. Bucks owner Herb Kohl says he’s willing to put up money for a new barn, but he is far from the pockets full that are needed for that.
Herb’s first priority should be getting a team on the court that can draw fans. Perhaps it is a franchise in as much distress as its building, because Herb has apparently not dropped the money out there to put the talent that puts folks in the seats--or the marketing department isn’t doing more than a pick-up job. The Bucks were 26th out of 30 NBA teams in attendance this season, sporting an average game head count 14,718--ahead of only the Kings, Pistons, Pacers and Nets.
The Pacers made the playoffs and had a hot team this year, so look at what mountain the Bucks will have to climb with its tenuous play on the court.
Showing what marketing can do, the Golden State Warriors--who had the seventh-worst record in the league--ranked 10th in attendance, drawing more than 18,000 fans a game for the seventh straight year.
The Warriors ownership group has in turn, announced that it will building the team a new arena on the San Francisco waterfront. And, in bigger news, they say they will pay the $600 million-plus to build it from their own pockets.
The Bucks are eerily more like the Sacramento Kings as a franchise. The Kings, like the Bucks, play in a barn that was built in 1988 and struggle with the same small-market money issues that the Bucks do. And Sacramento denizens, like Milwaukee, don’t want tax money being spent to pour concrete for sports. The mayor even pleaded to the NBA to funnel some money their way to try and get a plan together to dig some dirt .
In return, team ownership in Sacto is promising to move the team, likely Anaheim or Seattle, which will also be getting a new building built with mostly private money.
But we’ll be talking more about all these issues in coming issues of OnWisconsinSports.com.
I’m off to Mexico to explore gaming opportunities on the Cancun coast, so we’ll be back in a few weeks.