MMAC Chief: New Bucks arena effort 'has to be private sector-led'

Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MMAC Chief: New Bucks arena effort 'has to be private sector-led'

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED May 22, 2012

MILWAUKEE - The head of one of Southeastern Wisconsin's chief business organizations says that the push to build a new, long-term arena solution to keep the Milwaukee Bucks here must come from the business community.

"I think it has to be private sector-led," said Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce Tim Sheehy on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

He admitted, however that the private sector wouldn't necessarily take up the entire effort of getting a new arena built.

"I think we've got to come up with a plan.  It's going to take a lot of support from the community, and I think it's eventually going to have to take some support from the public sector, but that's a bit down the road yet."

Sheehy cited Bucks Owner and Democratic U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and the six-year, $18 million commitment from a number of businesses to the newly-renamed BMO Harris Bradley Center as an example of the type of private sector commitment that's needed.

"We've already seen tremendous support from Senator Kohl and his comments about a new arena.  Companies like BMO Harris, Harley Davidson, Northwestern Mutual have kind of led this charge," said Sheehy.

"This is kind of the tail end of the Bradley Center's career, but it serves as a bridge of the future.  Great cities invest in their future, their arts, their culture and entertainment, and I think Milwaukee is up to the challenge, but it's going to take a lot of work to get that done and a lot of support from the community."

The success of garnering that support will essentially answer the question about whether enough people in Southeastern Wisconsin have enough interest in keeping an NBA team here.

"I think that question is on the table as the community moves forward to look at the next stage of a downtown entertainment center," explained Sheehy.

"There's no question Milwaukee is a sports town.  We're No. 1 in the country in the number of seats per capita in professional sports.  I think it is part of our culture.  It's a great way to market the city.  It's part of our quality of life.  It helps us attract and retain talent."