The Bucks aren’t the only pro sports team obliquely threatening to leave Milwaukee if they don’t get a new arena deal. The owner of the Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team says he wants a revised lease at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, because he’s losing money on the team he bought last year:
“I complained to them,” [Mike] Zimmerman said of Wisconsin Center District officials. “What it takes to pull off this production — we’re not making any money.”
Given that the Wave was averaging 3,500 attendance the year before last, and many of those tickets were giveaways, you have to wonder why Zimmerman thought the team would do anything but lose money under his ownership. Still, he seems to figure the best way to handle his red ink is to complain to his public landlord that he has to pay rent. And also that somebody else has the concession contract at the arena, because “the biggest thing for me is if I can get a handle around the food and beverage [concession] in part or in whole.”
This is a Rich Kirchen article, so don’t expect it to get into the question of why on earth the state-created arena district would want to subsidize the losses of an indoor soccer team that can’t draw flies. He does cite Wisconsin Center District finance director Jeff Sinkovec as saying that the arena’s rent charges, which include an extra $2,500 for games that sell fewer than 2,500 tickets, are necessary to keep the arena from losing money: “It costs us more than $5,600 to put on a [Wave] game. If they sell under 2,500 [tickets], it doesn’t cover our costs.” But as to whether, if Zimmerman really wants lease breaks, the arena would be better off just letting the team move somewhere and filling those dates with something that can sell a few more tickets — or even just not spending the money to open the doors on those nights — you’ll have to use your imagination.