Former U.S. senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl wants a new arena for his NBA team. Kohl says his team needs to replace the antiquated BMO Harris Bradley Center in order to insure the Bucks remain in Milwaukee. The team’s lease at the Bradley center expires in 2017.
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The 78 year old Kohl has retained Steve Greenberg, managing director of New York-based Allen & Co., to advise him on the search for new partners in the Bucks but he would also like some taxpayer money to help finance the new arena. The Bucks certainly could use a new home. Earlier this year we valued the Bucks at $312 million with $87 million in revenue during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, ranking the team last in the NBA on both counts.
But getting support from the state for public funds for the arena would have likely been easier had Kohl not supported the recall of governor Scott Walker last year. Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall and has not expressed any willingness to support taxpayer money for a new arena unless voters supported such taxation in a referendum. Bad news for Kohl: a recent poll showed strong opposition by voters for using public funds for a new arena.
A positive for Kohl is that the NBA is currently negotiating a new national television deals with broadcasters ABC/ESPN and TNT. The current deal, which expires after the 2015-16 season, pays the league an average of $930 million a season. The value of the league’s broadcasting rights could double in the next deal. That would make the value of the Bucks increase and make it easier for Kohl to raise the funds for a new arena by selling a significant stake in his team.
But a new arena for the Bucks would have been an easier shot for Kohl with Walker in his corner.