Prominent architect proposes tearing down three buildings to make room for new arena

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Her donation paid for the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and now, the son of Jane Bradley Pettit is calling for the arena to be torn down. The Bradley Center is just one of the buildings he wants to see demolished to make room for a new arena.

David Uihlein is a prominent architect in Milwaukee, and through FOX6's partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal, we were able to obtain a copy of a letter he wrote -- suggesting tearing down the Bradley Center, the UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena (formerly the U.S. Cellular Arena) and the Milwaukee Theatre. He believes the entire space should be used for a new sports and entertainment complex.

The future of the land between 4th and 6th and between Kilbourn and Highland will help shape the future of downtown Milwaukee.

Uihlein's letter describes the ongoing arena discussion a "once in a generation opportunity" to "jump-start the renaissance west of the river."

Uihlein proposes tearing down the Bradley Center, the recently-renamed UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre.

"I am a big supporter of a new arena, but not on the location Mr. Uihlein has proposed," Franklyn Gimbel said.

Gimbel is the chairman of the Wisconsin Center District, which controls the theater and the arena.

"The cost of acquiring those two buildings from the Wisconsin Center District would run into the tens and millions of dollars," Gimbel said.

Gimbel says it'd be better to build a new arena north of the Bradley Center, where there's already land free for new development.

Uihlein prefers a brand new complex -- adding "construction costs should be mostly private contributions" and "operating costs should be supported by the current tax structure."

That structure currently uses revenue from hotel, food and beverage and rental car taxes to fund the Wisconsin Center District. Gimbel says even if the arena and theater were demolished, the tax money would still have to cover the $27 million debt tied to theater renovations.

"We have debt on the theater. We`re investing at the present time something in the neighborhood of $4 million in the arena," Gimbel said.

The NBA has given the Bucks until 2017 to find a solution.

FOX6 News reached out to Uihlein for comment on this story -- but he has not gotten back to us.

Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy says his main focus right now is on finances -- who would pay for a new arena, and how?