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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The new Milwaukee Bucks arena and surrounding development will attract more visitors to downtown Milwaukee where they will spend more time and money than they do now.
That was the vision presented by Bucks President Peter Feigin and others Thursday at a Milwaukee Press Club discussion about the $524 million arena at Historic Turner Hall.
The complex will be "something that will help stitch the area together," said Matt Rinka, principal of Rinka Chung Architecture, which is designing the entertainment block taking shape on the east side of the new arena.
"We want to attract residents down here, and we want to spur retail spending in a big way," Feigin said.
"We should be getting an additional million or a million and a half to visit downtown," he said.
Feigin and Rinka stressed that entertainment block would complement area businesses such as those along Old World 3rd St.
The goal, Feigin said, is to make sure "all of our interests are aligned."
"If Water Street was one bar, people wouldn't go to Water Street," Rinka said.
The Bucks will make an announcement about the tenants for the entertainment block within the next couple of weeks, Feigin said.
"People who come to events typically don't stay in downtown Milwaukee," Rinka said. "Hopefully, this will encourage more people to stay downtown."
Bar owner Bobby Wiltgen said there was some concern among his fellow business owners about competition from the hospitality businesses that will be part of the Bucks' project.
"I think it's moving very fast," said Wiltgen, owner of Who's on Third and two other businesses near the new arena on Old World 3rd St.
"We're anxious and waiting for more development to come."
Wiltgen praised the Bucks' staff for its enthusiasm, and doing things like sending mascot Bango out to area bars and restaurants to engage fans.
"The excitement is there" for the current team, Wiltgen said.
Tracy Johnson, president and CEO of the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin, said the project is "changing the perception of what's going to get people to come downtown, stay downtown and be downtown."
That includes concerns about safety, she said.
The real estate market around the arena is picking up now that people can see the facility, which is a little more than half completed, Johnson said.
"It is absolutely drawing interest," she said. "There is a high expectation that this area is going to boom."
The new arena, supported by $250 million in taxpayer money, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.
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