What would Sen. Kohl give for new Bucks arena?

CREATED May 7, 2012

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  • Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Click here for the take on the issue of a new Bucks arena from Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Gene Mueller.

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Bucks owner and Wisconsin Democratic Senator Herb Kohl has said publicly he would contribute "not an insignificant amount" to help build a new arena for his team.

How much can he realistically give?

"Who knows?  His wealth is not known publicly. He is a charitable man, always contributed to charity, some of them known, some of them not known.  Any guess is a good one," said Journal Sentinel sports business writer Don Walker on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"By putting his own money on the line...he's trying to jump start the talks.  He's willing to put his money down, and I think that takes away one of the arguments that people have in Milwaukee, 'Why doesn't the Senator do something about it?' "

Walker reminds us that Sen. Kohl has donated money before for new sports arenas.

"He donated about $25 million for the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater...roughly 30 percent."

The initial estimated cost of constructing the current home of the Bucks, the Bradley Center, was about $90 million.

According to Walker, that's a small percentage of what's needed to construct a new home for the Bucks.

"You couldn't build 1/3rd of an arena these days for that kind of money.  Most guess is, for a new arena, around $400 million or more, depending on how fancy you want to be."

The other critical question to Walker involves whether Milwaukee can successfully support an NBA franchise in the long term.

"It's a great question as to whether we're a big enough market to support a team," explained Walker.

"I think everyone can agree there are pressing needs in this community, starting with education, public safety, taxation.  This is part of the equation, but as Bud Selig likes to say, there's nothing better than seeing Milwaukee in the byline of the newspaper everyday, whether it's the Brewers or the Bucks."