Bucks lease revealed, doesn’t make arena deal worse than it was already

The state-run Wisconsin Center District and the Milwaukee Bucks have finally agreed on a lease for the team’s new $500 million arena that’s getting $450 million in public subsidies, and hey, look, it’s not entirely awful! The big questions, as you’ll remember, were “Who’ll pay for operating and maintenance costs?” and “Can the Bucks break the lease before the 30-year term is up?” and at least initially appears that the answers are “the Bucks owners” and “no”:

  • The Bucks owners will need to deposit a minimum of $60 million over 30 years in a capital reserve fund to pay for maintenance, and the team must pay for all maintenance, repair, and upgrade costs. (One report says this also includes operating costs; others are silent on the matter.)
  • The lease includes penalties for breaking the lease that start at $553 million in the first year and gradually decline to a bit more than $200 million by the end.
  • The team will actually pay rent! Not much rent — starting at $1 million a year, rising to about double that by the end — but so many teams pay no rent or negative rent, this qualifies as worth one cheer, anyway.

None of this makes the public arena cost a good deal, mind you. But at least the lease doesn’t look to have made it any worse.

One comment on “Bucks lease revealed, doesn’t make arena deal worse than it was already

  1. One reason taxpayers were not further fleeced is that the guy in charge of writing the lease was smart enough to hire someone with experience in negotiating sports building deals on the public’s behalf..

    State and local politicians were too smug to consider having a pro on the taxpayers team. So they all went like lambs to the slaughter as the Bucks divided and conquered. But it did not hurt a single politician locally in the recent election and we’ll see in the fall about state pols.

    Milwaukeeans are becoming known for their ability to yawn as public assets are raided and neighborhoods destabilized.
    The city voted to close off a major thoroughfare to make more room for the Bucks entertainment mall. YAWN.

    The Arena design looks like a turned over beer barrel and will be a nightmare for pedestrians. YAWN.

    Adding a ton of new bars and restaurants within blocks of tons of existing is sure to cannibalize the stalwarts. YAWN.

    So yes, NOT making a horrible arena deal worse is a very big deal!