'BMO Harris Bradley Center' becomes new name of Bucks' arena
MILWAUKEE - The home of the Milwaukee Bucks has a new name, the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The bank says it is making a major contribution among many businesses who will step up with millions to help the building and buy time until community leaders figure out the details of building a new facility for the team.
"We have to preserve professional basketball in Milwaukee, and we felt it was our responsibility," said BMO Harris executive vice president Brad Chapin.
The move is part of a six-year, $18 million partnership involving several companies, including Harley-Davidson, Kohl's, Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation. Specific contract lengths and contributions were not disclosed.
"The Bradley Center has served us well," said Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy, but he described the partnerships as a way for the buliding to serve "as a bridge for a new facility."
Many questions have been raised about the 25-year-old facility, and whether it can continue to be the home of the Bucks.
For years, interest has been expressed in building a new basketball arena, since the BMO Harris Bradley Center is one of the oldest, smallest and least-revenue-generating facilities in the NBA.
Now, after a quarter of a century inside that arena, the owner of the Bucks says it's time to play in a new facility.
"I think it's worth the effort," said Wisconsin Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, the team's owner.
"It's been worth the effort that we put into keeping our team here over the years. I believe it's worth the effort in trying to keep the team here in the years to come."
Sen. Kohl was expected to pour "not an insignificant amount" of money into a new facility, but he also says the current location also needs help.
When asked about whether taxpayers would also have to help foot the bill for the arena, he said, "I don't really know. I don't want to get into it. This is a day of celebration."
During 2011-12, the Bucks had their worst per-game attendance since the team moved into the building. Still, Kohl says he has high hopes for the future.
"I think the future of this team in this community is very positive, and very healthy."
The BMO Harris Bradley Center also houses Marquette men's basketball, the Milwaukee Admirals, the Milwaukee Mustangs and a number of concerts and other events.