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Kohl, new Bucks owners to contribute big percentage of arena cost

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Photo: Video by tmj4.com

Kohl, new Bucks owners to contribute big percentage of arena cost

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Apr 16, 2014 - UPDATED: Apr 16, 2014

Part of the key to the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks is to make sure a new arena is in place so the team remains long term in Milwaukee.

It appears a big amount of that money will come from current owner Herb Kohl and new owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, increasing the chances of a majority private-funded arena.

BMO Harris Bradley Center chairman Marc Marotta said the new owners would give $100 million to a new arena, and Kohl will give $100 million as well.

"This is a game-changer for the entire debate," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  He congratulated Kohl for his commitment to the community.

"This is a new day in our community."

"This is the sort of thing that happens once in a generation if you're lucky," added Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

"Are we going to be able to hang on to the Bucks?  I don't think we could have any more emphatically, unequivocally positive answer than what we've heard today."

Still, that is less than the probable cost of more than $400 million, potentially as high as $500 million.

That would mean a combination of public and other private funds would need to equal between $200 million and $300 million to get an arena deal done.

There have been reports that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio could contribute to the cost, along with the possibilities of an arena sponsor who could gain naming rights.  It's not out of the question that 60 percent or more of the overall cost could come from the private sector.

"Our hope is to come together and make this happen," said Kohl.

He said he already talked with Governor Scott Walker about a possible public sector commitment to a new arena.

"We spoke to Governor Walker just an hour ago.  He couldn't be happier with this development," said Kohl during the news conference.

"We have plenty of time to interact public-sector to private-sector before decisions have to be made...we will make that case to him and other public officials that we are presenting a very positive opportunity for Milwaukee and all of Wisconsin.  We think we have a strong case to make."

They may have two more years to make that case, as a Business Journal report says the Bucks are aiming for a two-year extension from the NBA to get an arena deal done.

The Bucks' new owners don't want to have to use that extension.  TODAY'S TMJ4's Cody Holyoke reports that new ownership hopes to have secured funding within a year, and a new building built within two years.

"We have two task forces in place to worry about how we get to the end.  There's a lot of work," said MMAC head Tim Sheehy, who has played a major role in leading a public discussion about public funding for capital spending on cultural projects in the Milwaukee area.

"Today, this announcement has provided momentum to that project that I think none of us anticipated."

It may be enough momentum to "Save Our Bucks," as team superfan Paul Henning has advocated for.

"The man truly did save our Bucks," said Henning to Holyoke.

"He did it in 1985 and he did it again in 2014, so to keep the NBA, to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee for a lifetime, that's something to stand up and say 'thank you.'