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The process of building a new downtown arena for the Milwaukee Bucks will get a jump-start Wednesday when three or four stadium design firms present plans to new owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry in New York.
"We're taking that lead and making sure we know what's happening first," Lasry said at a breakfast meeting of local business and media leaders on Monday. "Once we have something we believe will work and is sort of a reasonable cost, then at least we can go to the city and state and say, 'Here's what we think. Can we do this?'
"(Wednesday) is the first meeting, where we're giving them the big picture. You can go crazy and do a lot of different things. I think right now we're trying to understand what all the different choices are."
Lasry also said he and Edens plan to announce additional local investors in the franchise on or about July 15.
He said he anticipates an arena cost of $350 to $400 million.
"We hope to have public support, absolutely," Lasry said of a state or local contribution to the building of the arena. "We hope to do it as a partnership with the people of Milwaukee and the people of Wisconsin."
Lasry and Edens have pledged $100 million toward a new arena and former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million.
Now begins the serious discussions of what type of arena can be built.
"I think when we do this, we want this to be more than a stadium," Lasry said. "We're talking to the city about that.
"If we could do what we would like, we would love to have a stadium. We would love to have revitalization. We would love to have businesses, restaurants. We'd love it to be more that you could do as opposed to just a stadium."
Lasry said he expects a new arena to seat 16,000 to 18,000 fans with more seats in the lower bowl. At the BMO Harris Bradley Center approximately 10,000 seats are in the upper deck.
Lasry said the NBA maintains a set of 50 different metrics for each franchise. For the Bucks, the franchise graded toward the bottom of many of those metrics.
"So you look at that from a business standpoint, it's a phenomenal opportunity.... If we can turn this around, there's a huge upside."
Lasry said he has a location in mind for a new arena, but declined to say where.
"There are certain areas that would be better than others," he said. "Part of it is what the city is able to do."
He added that he and Edens would have a clear idea of "what we are prepared to push for in the next couple of months."
Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said it was smart of both Lasry and Edens to meet with stadium design firms.
"They are not doing this to hire somebody," Sheehy said. "They are doing this to get their heads around what kind of arena do they want to build and what it would cost."
Sheehy said that information would be shared with the MMAC arena panel, which is working with the Hammes Co., on a financial model for the proposed arena.
Lasry declined to identify potential local investors at this point.
But he did say, "No big celebrity or star has called me."
There has been speculation about the possible involvement of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Bucks guard Junior Bridgeman, among others. Local businessman Ted Kellner also has been mentioned and Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio indicated publicly he would be willing to help out financially for a new arena.
Lasry said Attanasio has been "generous" with his time in offering counsel on being a new owner, but he did not say whether Attanasio would be an investor in the Bucks. Lasry threw out the first pitch before the Brewers home game against the Washington Nationals on Monday night.
At least a $5 million investment is required by the NBA for additional owners, Lasry said, although there may be some leeway.
"I think everybody is going through the process right now with the NBA," Lasry said. "You've got to get approved."
Edens and Lasry purchased the Bucks for $550 million, at the time the highest price paid for an NBA franchise.
A few weeks later, Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive officer, agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. That increased the value of all franchises in the NBA, including the Bucks.
But Lasry said he and Edens did not want to raise the price for local investors based on the Clippers transaction.
"We thought that was the right way to do it," Lasry said. "So shockingly, there was a little bit more interest, and that was fine. We thought that was the right way to start a partnership."
"I thought we paid a fair price. I think part of the problem is people would rather be in L.A. than Milwaukee. Our view was, 'No.'
"Everybody asked me after it was over if I wished I would have bought the Clippers and my answer was 'Zero.' I had zero interest in being in L.A.
"This is where we wanted to be. Because of that there were less bidders. I think today there would be a lot more bidders."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said immediately after the Bucks purchase that Edens and Lasry were getting a bargain.
"I was happy to see Cuban said that, because at the time we had paid the most for any NBA team," Lasry said. "I remember my wife telling me, 'Do you know what you just did?'
"Wes and I would rather be in a smaller market. We think that's where the opportunity is. If we can turn it around, you're going to be a very big part of the community. One of the things I love about Milwaukee and the Bucks, if we can turn things around, we've created something and connected with the community."
In other news, Lasry said a chief financial officer has been hired, although the identity of the person will not be announced for a few days. And he indicated interviewing has begun to find a team president for the Bucks organization.
Lasry said he is trying to persuade his 26-year-old son, Alexander, to take a position with the team, "if we can work out a deal."
"We're making a few changes and we'll continue moving down that road," Lasry said.
The new owner said he wanted to change the colors of the Bucks jersey but found out it wasn't that easy.
"There are a lot of things I would like to see," Lasry said. "You would think as the owner you could have some choices.
"It doesn't really work that way. You have to get the NBA's approval to change the colors. You have to get the NBA's approval for anything, which was a bit of a surprise. I thought we could do things.
"It takes about a year, so we're talking to them about different things. We're trying to get a bunch of suggestions from people. I've been told purple is out because that's the dreaded (Minnesota) Vikings.
"But I do think we need to have a little bit different color scheme."
The following fields overflowed: UD_C64_1 = Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.