Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin Center District finalize 30-year lease for new arena

MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) and the Milwaukee Bucks signed a lease agreement Wednesday, April 13th for a new arena that will keep the team in Wisconsin for the next 30 years. The Bucks arena groundbreaking has been scheduled for June 18th, and the arena will open in summer of 2018. Team owners say from great views for fans to a guaranteed stream of tax dollars, the public is coming out a winner. The Milwaukee Bucks will play another two seasons at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. "June 18th, we will break ground (on the new arena)," Bucks President Peter Feigin said. The lease agreement announcement was made Wednesday as crews worked to install a sewer system on land just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center -- the new arena district land. And as the Milwaukee Bucks geared up to play their last game of the regular season.

Work on sewer project near BMO Harris Bradley Center -- part of new Bucks arena project

Work on sewer project near BMO Harris Bradley Center -- part of new Bucks arena project

Officials said the lease agreement protects the taxpayers' $250 million investment ($400 with interest), and keeps the Bucks in Milwaukee for the next 30 years.

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin

"The Bucks will remain in Wisconsin and will be the catalyst for widespread development in downtown Milwaukee for many years to come," Feigin said. The arena will serve as the centerpiece of a development proponents say will generate an additional $500 million worth of private investment. “This agreement is the realization of a commitment Senator Kohl and our owners made two years ago to Bucks fans and the entire community to keep the team in Wisconsin and help revitalize downtown Milwaukee. We’re incredibly thankful for all of the hard work that went into this historic public-private partnership from the WCD, elected officials and community leaders. This is just the beginning of our effort and we can’t wait to see the economic impact this will have on our community," Bucks President Peter Feigin said.

A transparent entrance lobby welcomes Bucks fans from the north and west of the arena. This public entrance utilizes similar detailing and composition to the primary entry from 4th Street, but brought down in scale to meet the street and surrounding

The new arena will be publicly owned by the Wisconsin Center District and operated by the Milwaukee Bucks, who have committed to annual lease payments totaling approximately $45 million during the life of the agreement. In addition to bearing the responsibility for any cost overruns during the construction of the facility, the Bucks will be responsible for all operating, maintenance and capital repair expenses. The Bucks have agreed to deposit a cumulative $60 million minimum into a capital improvements fund for the arena over the 30-year term of the lease. The Bucks get proceeds from events, naming rights and sponsorships. The team will also benefit from property tax exemptions that will apply to the arena as well as "offices of the professional basketball team or its affiliate, parking spaces and garages, storage or loading facilities, access ways, sidewalks, a skywalk, plazas, transportation facilities, and sports teams stores located on such land."

The new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks is the focal point of the nearly 30-acre district, which also includes an expansive public entry plaza connecting to a new entertainment block, parking deck, Bucks Training Facility and other commercial and resid

In addition to annual lease payments, Bucks officials said, in a press release, they estimate income taxes paid by team players and staff, as well as visiting players, will bring Wisconsin $634 million over the life of the deal. When asked why he believes this is a fair agreement for the pubic, co-owner Wes Edens was even more optimistic. "We estimate that the income taxes from the Bucks alone is about $1.3 billion over this period -- so you don`t need a calculator to figure out it`s a heck of a reasonable deal," Wes Edens, Bucks co-owner said. The lease calls for penalties starting at $553 million should the lease be broken early. Over time, the penalty shrinks, but it never goes below $200 million.

The primary entrance to the arena faces a new Fourth Street public plaza and future entertainment block. A glass curtain wall maximizes transparency on the east facade to reveal a full-height atrium within. Dramatic escalators and monumental stairs c


Highland Avenue will provide important pedestrian linkage from the west. The arena design incorporates an articulated brick base which is punctuated by glazing for arena administrative offices, an employee entrance and the multi-story flagship Bucks

The new Bucks arena was designed by Populous, Eppstein Uhen and HNTB. The team submitted detailed design plans to the city in March. With the new arena, fans will notice a change when it comes to seating. Most of the seats in the BMO Harris Bradley Center are in the upper deck. In the new arena, 10,000 of the 17,000 seats will be downstairs. "It`s really built just for basketball -- so everything`s gonna be much tighter, meaning if you`re in the upper bowl, you`re gonna have a much better fan experience than you will at the Bradley Center today," Jamie Dinan, Bucks co-owner said.

The Juneau Avenue frontage offers a particularly dynamic view of the arena as the extension of the arced long-span roof seamlessly transitions to vertical wall between Fourth and Sixth Streets. Curved in both floor plan and vertical section, and clad

To see renderings or learn more about the project, visit