One day after former Sen. Herb Kohl and the two new prospective owners of the Milwaukee Bucks pledged at least $200 million toward a new multipurpose arena, the hard reality of how much it could cost to maintain the current BMO Harris Bradley Center sank in.
Marc Marotta, chairman of the BMO Harris Bradley Center board, told attendees at a Milwaukee Press Club forum on arena issues that he estimated it could cost $100 million over the next 10 or 12 years to maintain the building if nothing is done.
“We’re still working on this estimate. We believe that if nothing is done, let’s just say nothing is done, the Bucks leave, where are we here. We estimate to just to be able to maintain for safety issues and basic maintenance, it will cost $100 million over the next 10 to 12 years,” Marotta said.
Marotta said there was no way for the arena to pay for that itself.
“That’s going to be a public obligation or we will have a building that will be crumbling,” he said. “That’s the challenge we face and the challenge the community faces.”
Marotta has been an advocate of a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. He said he provided the estimate as a means of being transparent about what challenges are ahead for the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“Do we do nothing and pump money into this facility?’ he said.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center is a state-owned facility. Arena officials have received two separate $5 million grants in recent years, including one from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, to address maintenance issues.
Asked if his board would go back to the state for more money, he said, “We’ll see about that.”
Marotta did not detail what parts of the building, first opened in 1988, had deteriorated. But he and other officials have previously talked about a leaky roof; a deteriorating heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; as well as seating that has been damaged beyond repair.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center has received some significant support – totaling nearly $19 million – from various corporations, including BMO Harris Bank, Northwestern Mutual and Miller-Coors.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center board also has created a nonprofit entity to try to drum up more corporate support. That effort is being led by Gail Lione, a former Harley-Davidson executive.
This article was republished with permission from Don Walker, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.