Image courtesy Milwaukee Bucks

For Bucks, new arena is also avenue to sell Milwaukee

6 Comments

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Construction vehicles and dusty streets surround the Milwaukee Bucks’ new downtown arena that is less than a year away from completion.

The state-of-the-art facility will be the Bucks’ home starting in 2018. But in many respects the massive project is more than just about basketball.

Team and arena executives want to get major entertainment acts to stop in Milwaukee. They want the arena to be a driver for ambitious downtown redevelopment.

And to do that, they have to go out to market and sell Milwaukee.

“We want to create an international destination with talent. We want to compete with every major city, we want to be on every tour stop,” team president Peter Feigin said. “We have this one window of time to tell our story and our narrative around the world.”

That is exactly what Feigin, along with team and arena officials, planned to do this week in London. They were meeting with concert promoters and artist management firms in hopes of bringing major international acts to Milwaukee.

The groundwork was laid in part when the Bucks named Raj Saha as general manager of the Wisconsin Entertainment & Sports Center. He managed the O2 arena in London for arena giant AEG, and also helped stage the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Bucks view the $524 million arena project, which was partially financed by public funding, as a centerpiece of downtown revitalization. The facility will replace the 30 year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center, which sits next to the project.

While the Bradley Center did draw its share of major acts, Feigin and Saha said there were limitations to the aging arena.

The steel trusses and infrastructure at the new arena have been built to carry and support the weight needed for the elaborate-style productions used in major concerts, Feigin said. The arena has 200,000 pounds of rigging capability, according to the Bucks.

With a seating capacity of 17,500 for basketball and 500 more for concerts, the arena has 10,000 seats in the lower bowl, which planners say will help audio-visual experiences. Two-thirds of the seats in the Bradley Center are in the upper level.

And Feigin says that the Bucks have placed a premium on acoustics, including a roof designed to lower reverberation and reduce echoes. The arena also has what’s called “specialized low frequency absorption” for bass notes allowing for cleaner bass sound.

“It’s secondarily about basketball, probably the only thing that’s secondarily about basketball is how you design this so it’s a surreal acoustic experience, as well as a visual experience,” Feigin said.

In Saha’s experience, only a handful of U.S. arena executive have traveled to London to talk to promoters. Consider this trip another way in which the Bucks, who have New York-based ownership, are thinking big.

The area already has a reputation as a music destination with Milwaukee’s Summerfest music festival. The demographics are different in Milwaukee from Chicago and Minneapolis, Saha said.

The first new sign of how things are changing popped up this summer. The Bucks moved into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility downtown, across the street from the arena construction site.

“It’s amazing. It’s refreshing to walk in here every day,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said after the first practice last week. “Everything in here is just made to perfection.”

The facility and new arena give the Bucks two new draws with which to attract or retain players in the future. With the young team itself on the rise after two playoff appearances in three seasons, Milwaukee’s image as an NBA outpost is starting to disappear.

Similarly, the Bucks see the new arena as an avenue to open new inroads into Milwaukee, music and otherwise.

“We don’t think there’s any reason why – especially logistically, geographically, monetarily – we (couldn’t) get the music acts. Part of the reason we haven’t is because we haven’t been out there to tell our story, to market, to sell,” Feigin said. “That’s really what we’re doing.”

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

Leave a comment

Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

From Sacramento Kings
1 Comment

The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.