Is there room for everyone at Milwaukee's sports table?
If you're looking for a seat to a sports event, Milwaukee is your kinda town.
The Journal/Sentinel's Don Walker is out with news of a new study that shows we have more of them per capita than any other town in the U-S.
The timing is interesting, coming as it does amid the debate about the Bradley...oops, I mean the BMO Harris Bradley Center's future, or lack thereof.
Walker points out that the numbers show Milwaukee is a sports-saturated market and the study doesn't include Marquette, UWM or the area's other attractions: the Admirals, Wave and Mustangs. All compete for a slice of the limited fan-dollar pie, not to mention the business community's ability to buy tickets, sponsorships, suites, club seats, ads and other sponsorships teams need to thrive.
It's not a new issue.
The BMO/BC was a gift from Lloyd and Jane Pettit. It is built to house hockey and basketball but anyone with two eyes can see that it is, first and foremost, a hockey building. The Pettits wanted an NHL team but stopped that quest when the league tried to extort millions of dollars in territorial damages for the Chicago Blackhawks as well as market research showed Milwaukee could support either hoop or hockey--not both. To their eternal credit, the Pettits dropped their quest for their own NHL franchise, deciding they didn't want one if it meant trouble for the Bucks.
Milwaukee hasn't grown that much since. We built Miller Park but it took a contentious legislative session and a recall before the shovels hit the ground. Green Bay redid Lambeau, but not before a gut-wrenching referendum on a Brown County tax. And that was AFTER the Pack's return to NFL glory.
Milwaukee is a better town with the Bucks. We have other needs, to be sure, but this could be a chance for our city to do up something big, to change the way we think, to start competing with the likes of Indianapolis and Minneapolis/St. Paul who thought large and turned their towns into sports meccas and convention/tourist destinations. If we have leaders in this town, they have yet ot weigh in, with the exception of those who committed cash to the BMO/BC and Bucks owner Herb Kohl who's pledging what he calls "not an insignificant" amount of cash toward a new arena.
Sports saturated? Yes, we are. This could be our chance to stay that way, and maybe even more so.