Could London Olympic arena become cheaper way to keep Bucks in Milwaukee?

The London 2012 Basketball Arena. | Photo: Edmund Sumner. Image by Edmund Sumner

Could London Olympic arena become cheaper way to keep Bucks in Milwaukee?

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED May 2, 2013

MILWAUKEE - An architecture firm which designs sports venues says the 2012 Olympic basketball arena could theoretically become the home of the Milwaukee Bucks.

No, the Bucks wouldn't relocate to London.

The arena would be modified, and moved to Milwaukee.

That arena's for sale, right now, for a lot less than the half-billion dollar figure that's been discussed for a new gym for the Bucks.

"Half a billion sounds like a lot of money...we probably built (the recently-renovated 90,000-seat) Wembley Stadium for less than that," said Sam Wright, the assistant director of Wilkinson Eyre Architects in London.

"At the moment, you can buy the main structure, the envelope and seating for roughly about $7.5 million."

His firm designed the Olympic basketball arena (reported cost: $40 million) to be what he calls sustainable, able to be taken down and put up somewhere else.

"It's currently being dismantled in London at the moment," Wright told 620WTMJ's Jay Sorgi.

"A reusable building, you're putting it up, you're taking it down, you're either putting it up in the same configuration, or perhaps you're looking at a different number of parameters."

The specific parameters for the Bucks might include adding:
- 8,000 more seats (it sat 12,000 for the Olympics)
- permanent locker rooms and storage space
- revenue generators like luxury boxes, restaurants and shopping
- the ability to withstand cold Wisconsin winters

Could Wright's firm do something like that?

"It's infinitely flexible," Wright told Jay.

"The structure itself is a very simple structure. You can change the grid.  You can extend the building in length, and in terms of the bowl design, you can adjust the height as well."

Wright says that the 2016 Rio De Janerio Olympic Summer Games could have used the building.

"Could we have taken it to Rio?  Yes, and Rio made very serious noises about it."

Specifics about Rio De Janerio's necessities didn't allow that plan to work.

If such issues don't come up with Milwaukee, Wright says his firm could ship, reconfigure, and rebuild the arena for the Bucks with a much smaller final price tag than that bantered-about figure of $500 million.

"Much cheaper.  Take off a zero and that's where you're probably at," claimed Wright.

Of course, it could cost more than $50 million with the money-making amenities the Bucks need, road construction, utilities and other parts of the construction work. 

But if the firm's plan works, it could be a relatively low-cost way for the Bucks to stay in Milwaukee.