Bucks ask NBA to okay arena lease extension so they can say NBA wants them to move

This is going to take some parsing, so let’s just dive straight into the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s news story first:

The Milwaukee Bucks have told NBA Commissioner David Stern that when the team’s lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center expires in 2017 the franchise will have a plan that includes a new arena.

Stern made that clear Friday in a teleconference with reporters in advance of the NBA’s playoffs.

Asked whether the NBA had imposed a hard deadline of 2017 to have a new arena in place in Milwaukee, Stern said: “The Bucks came to us and said we will have a plan that will have a new arena at the end of this extension of this lease. ‘And will you please give us an extension and approve it?’ And we did. That’s the current state of the record.”

Okay, now let’s back up and play What’s The Actual Story Here? The Bucks have negotiated a lease extension to stay put through 2017 — actually, they agreed to that last fall — and they told the NBA commissioner about it. And They said they want a new arena after that. And the commissioner said that’s all cool.

The message here, as usual, is the subtext: By asking permission from the NBA to sign the lease extension that he already signed, Bucks owner Herb Kohl sends the signal that the NBA isn’t going to keep putting up with this ancient 25-year-old arena no way no how. This works even when Stern himself ducks questions about whether the NBA is ordering the Bucks to get a new arena built, since then you can read into his nonresponsiveness anything you want, right?

The lesson: Deadlines are important when you want people to get stuff done. Though it’s also worth remembering that that sometimes doesn’t mean getting stuff done well.


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6 comments on “Bucks ask NBA to okay arena lease extension so they can say NBA wants them to move

  1. I think you’re misreading this, Neil. I really think that this was the Journal-Sentinel pushing this more than the NBA or the Bucks. I think it was just the sports biz reporter for the J-S asking Stern a leading question and Stern giving an honest non-answer.

  2. Maybe, except that Kohl made exactly this threat one year ago:


  3. Neil,

    Of course you’re right that the NBA wants to move the team if Milwaukee doesn’t subsidize an arena. I’m just saying that it isn’t the Bucks or the NBA that are pushing that message right now. It’s the Journal-Sentinel.


    I’d bet a hefty wager that the Bucks don’t move to either city. You game, son?

  4. It seems like the Bucks are really saying “Stern/Silver, this team isn’t for sale, and this team isn’t going to move, so don’t lie to the losing group for the Kings that they can buy the Bucks and move them to that city. We think we can get the brand new arena the NBA desires in the next 5 years, just be patient and let us do our thing.”

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