The Milwaukee Bucks want a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. A Milwaukee community group known as "Common Ground" wants better public athletic facilities, playgrounds and recreational spaces. Together, they might both get what they're asking for.
Common Ground is an organization of Milwaukee churches, small businesses, nonprofits and neighborhood groups. At a Tuesday meeting turned pep rally, Common Ground supporters overwhelmingly approved a motion to support public funding for a new arena as long as $150 million to $250 million goes toward improving public school athletic facilities, playground and recreational spaces, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
If that amount of money is not set aside, Common Ground says it will oppose public funding for a new arena.
One year ago, Common Ground members launched a Fair Play campaign, arguing that kids in Milwaukee deserved better facilities just as much as the Bucks. In June 2013, the group released a study of 268 sites in the county, in which 65 percent of the athletic and recreational spaces were rated terrible, poor or fair.
"My kids and all of our kids deserve better," Jennifer O'Hear, chair of Common Ground's Fair Play campaign and the mother of three Milwaukee Public Schools students told the paper. "We are going to have to fight for our kids."
At 25 years old, the BMO Harris Bradley Center is considered ancient by NBA standards. According to this article from the Journal Sentinel, rust is working its way through doors, mechanical systems are aging, the seats are wearing and the roof is leaking. The NBA has told the Bucks and civic leaders that the arena does not meet its standards for a modern facility.
The Bucks' lease at the venue expires in 2017, which is when the NBA hopes to see a new arena open, or progress made toward one.
Bucks owner Herb Kohl says he is committed to spending a significant amount of his own money on a new facility, but public opposition to any kind of regional tax to fund the arena has been strong.