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Adam Silver says it’s critical to the NBA that the Bucks remain in Milwaukee

Sep 21, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

NBA Commissioner David Stern Announces Retirement Getty Images

Adam Silver will replace David Stern as NBA commissioner in February, and when he said recently that the Bradley Center in Milwaukee was “unfit for the NBA,” many saw it as a veiled threat that the Bucks would be opened for discussions of relocation if plans for a state-of-the-art facility weren’t in the works in the very near future.

Silver didn’t discuss the arena in a recent interview with Jim Paschke of, which can be viewed here in its entirety. But he did give a vote of confidence of sorts to the NBA’s desire to keep its partnership with Milwaukee alive for the foreseeable future.

From Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“It’s critical to us that the team remains here and remains successful here,” Silver said.

Silver said he was pleased the Bucks’ front office was focused on the future. Asked if small-market Milwaukee can be a successful franchise, Silver pointed to other successful and smaller NBA cities: San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City. Franchises can be successful when they are well managed and have the right culture, Silver said.

Silver did not go into detail about the league’s desire to get a new arena in Milwaukee, but said such buildings must create an environment that attracts people. He likened arenas to town halls and referred to them as the “center of the community.”

With the NBA wanting to keep its franchise in Milwaukee, an arena deal will in all likelihood get done there in the next few years. If the city were to put up some kind of fight, however, then Silver would have no choice but to backtrack on these comments, and open up to the possibility of moving the franchise to a more lucrative market.

But as we saw over the past couple of years in Sacramento, that’s an extremely complicated process, and it’s probably one that the league wants to avoid if at all possible.

  1. MyTeamsAllStink - Sep 21, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    since when did Milwaukee become such a critical market?I don’t recall seeing a nationally televised Bucks game in the last few years nor do I ever see anyone wearing Bucks gear.Wisconsin is Packers and Badgers country and sometimes Brewers.Moving them to Seattle Las Vegas or even Kansas City would be better options than remaining in Milwaukee.Besides the Bulls play only an hour away

    • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      That’s if you like the Bools. Having lived in the Chicago suburbs for 5 years and the people there knowing I was originally from Wisconsin, it was hell, sports wise, living there (’85 to ’89). Packers getting stomped by the Bears, Sox pummeling the Brewers, Bucks getting beat by Jordan and the Bulls. And to top it off they were so pompous.

  2. onlyavoice - Sep 21, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    The Bradley Center Isn’t Bad At All,
    Try Putting A Winning Team On The Floor & The People Will Come.

  3. jimatmad - Sep 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    The chances are pretty close to zero that Milwaukee citizens would ever approve local public financing for a new arena or major upgrades.

    Milwaukee got burned badly in the deal for Miller Park for the Brewers.

    The citizens didn’t want a publicly financed stadium, but the GOP politicians running state government at the time imposed a tax on the Milwaukee area.

    Famously, then-governor Tommy Thompson told a rally in northern Wisconsin to tell their state reps to “Stick it to them (Milwaukee citizens)” so that the state could keep the Brewers on Milwaukee’s dime. In return, the Brewers got their stadium, and Milwaukee got the bill.

    A Republican legislator who had promised to vote against the stadium tax caved under party pressure and voted for it. Citizens recalled and removed George Petak for going back on his word.

    After all of that, I suspect any vote to bail out the Bucks would fail miserably.

  4. jeff6381 - Sep 21, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Now days superstar players only want large markets and party cities Milwaukee is neither last time i checked so it will be hard for them to be successful and the fans wont support a losing team.

    • innovativethinking87 - Sep 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      How does Portland do it? Look at Portland’s attendance record. Top 5 pretty much every year.

    • 48colorrainbow - Sep 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I hate to be such a cynic, but it also seems like the NBA only wants superstar players in large markets–I would be interested to see if Kevin Durant is still in Oklahoma City in five years.

    • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      For the most part that is correct.

  5. greej1938l - Sep 21, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    People have supported the Cubs forever and there the worst team in professional sports! In my opinion!

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      The data on free agency shows that players largely go to winning teams, not party cities. There’s a fair amount of disposable income in Chicago.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        Wow, PBT combined my comments into one response. First sentence was a response to Jeff, above. Second sentence was for Greej.

  6. Brian - Sep 21, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Let’s call this what it really is–another money grab from taxpayers by a professional sports league. Sorry, but I don’t care how deep your roots go in a city, how long of a history you have, if you own a sports team, you’re making money hand over fist. You shouldn’t get public money as well. Build your own arena.

  7. muskyhunter2542 - Sep 21, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    people need to stfu about the tax payer BS. If The milwaukee Bucks leave. our taxes will only go up.
    only uneducated fools fix on the taxpayer bs.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      yeah! The citizens should be required to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize a new arena for an owner that doesn’t care enough to put a winning team in it. If they don’t pay, I say they should have their house repossessed, sold, and the proceeds used to fund the arena!!!! Those jerks.

      • muskyhunter2542 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        Im all for selling the team to a more competent owner that will keep the team in Milwaukee. However, you need to have the arena in place to find that person. If I have a few hundred Million dollars laying around and I was looking for a NBA Franchise. I wouldnt want to buy The Bucks unless there was an arena fermly in place. Or at least solid plans.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:28 AM

        why do the people need the Bucks in town? They don’t do anything for the local economy.

    • mikeevergreen - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      Sure, dude, we’re already expected to be whores for the corproates, why not be whores to professional sports teams, too! YOU stfu. And remain that way.

      • muskyhunter2542 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        You must be a treehugging lib POS???

      • muskyhunter2542 - Nov 22, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        WOW, you are one of those idiots who want Milwaukee to just be another De Monis, IA. There are 30 teams that can say that they have an NBA franchise. I think that Milwaukee needs to take some pride in that. However, sadly I see that so many just dont!!!

  8. nickbroadstbullies - Sep 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    People in Milwaukee should pay attention to the situation in Philadelphia. Sixers owner Josh Harris recently purchased the New Jersey Devils AND the Prudential Center. In anticipation of the team being the worst in the league this year, Harris increased ticket prices substantially for a team that will be horrible in a city where they have trouble drawing fans to begin with. He is obviously greasing the skids to break his lease with Spectacor and move the team into HIS building in Newark. If/when he does that, Philadelphia will be an open market. How committed will Adam Silver be to keeping a team in Milwaukee when Philadelphia becomes available??

    • Kurt Helin - Sep 22, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Don’t bet on that. Not only has Harris said that is not the case if you think the other owners would let him move out of Philly you need to stop eating so many of those special brownies.

  9. Brian - Sep 21, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    I’ve seen the studies and they’re pretty conclusive. When public money is spent to build a stadium, the economic benefits are short-term and limited, and they never make up for what the state/city spent to on the stadium or arena. The only people who win in that scenario are the team owners, and frankly, they’re doing just fine already.

  10. esotericmindguy - Sep 21, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Musky, how do you figure? Rip the place down and build something else. Absolutely no way tax payers should make Kohl hundreds of millions. The value of bucks will climb by probably 150 million And operating revenue will sky rocket. Build your own effing stadium or move.

  11. deadeyedesign23 - Sep 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    This is what happens when you have a salary cap. If all teams can offer the same money save for Bird rights, then the only variables are location, talent and taxes all of which aren’t on Milwaukee’s side.

  12. scottheis82 - Sep 21, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    So you want this guy to build a new arena out of pocket so the city can profit on all the revenue that games and other events generate in the surrounding area for the city… Wait who’s getting taken for a ride again?

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      NBA franchises don’t actually provide any economic benefit to the community. Do some research, or listen to an economist.

      • scottheis82 - Sep 21, 2013 at 8:21 PM

        Yeah, I guess the fact that they pay a lease for the arena doesn’t count. While I am almost certain people in Milwaukee aren’t filling the sports bars, it’s an error on your part to generalize all franchises, and for the cities that host all star weekends??? Yeah no economic impact whatsoever.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 21, 2013 at 10:24 PM

        When economists take a look at the experience of numerous cities across the nation over the past 50 years, they discover that the presence of sports teams, stadiums, and arenas – particularly when subsidized by local governments – don’t drive growth in employment or personal income.

        As an extensive 2008 review of the peer-reviewed economic studies published over the past 20 years concludes: “No matter what cities or geographical areas are examined, no matter what estimators are used, no matter what model specifications are used, and no matter what variables are used, articles published in peer reviewed economic journals contain almost no evidence that professional sports franchises and facilities have a measurable economic impact on the economy.”

        One of the main reasons sports teams and the facilities in which they play are not drivers of economic growth is because they don’t create new economic activity. Instead, they displace other forms of economic activity.

        For example, imagine you were going to spend money on a night out. You could spend it on an expensive dinner or you could spend it on tickets to a sporting event. But because you have a limited amount of money to spend, you wouldn’t spend it on both.

        This substitution of one type of spending for another is exactly what you see happening when you analyze the experience of cities with sports teams. Consumers spending more of their discretionary income on sports-related goods is offset by those same consumers spending less on other things. Thus, no net new economic activity results.

        Another point economists make is that most of the profit generated by sports teams go to the players, owners, and shareholders of the team. Those individuals tend not to live in the area in which the team plays. Instead, the money is “exported” to be spent or invested elsewhere. This reduces or eliminates the “ripple effect” that sports teams have on the local economy.

        Stephen Slivinski says it quite succinctly.

      • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Sure they do. It is the same as building something that brings in tourists. If you have neither, your town or city will lack the activity and the bringing in of outside money by people that want to see that particular event or venue. That goes to bars, restaurants, hotels, and in turn that employs people. Then the people will go out and spend on stuff too. I am not saying that a sports franchise is critical to the vitality of a community but it definitely adds to the quality of life of a city. Quality of life includes incoming money.

  13. scottheis82 - Sep 21, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Granted Kohl should pony up some of the expense as it will be more beneficial for him than others.

    • mikeevergreen - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      Some? Try ALL.

  14. antistratfordian - Sep 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    “He likened arenas to town halls and referred to them as the ‘center of the community.'”

    How absurdly arrogant. Thou lumpish base-court popinjay!

    • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      Maybe part of the center of the community but not “the” center of the community. So, he is a little off.

  15. boiler72 - Sep 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    jeff6381 – Sep 21, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Now days superstar players only want large markets and party cities Milwaukee is neither last time i checked so it will be hard for them to be successful and the fans wont support a losing team.

    Uh, what? Milwaukee is not a party city? A town known for its multiple breweries, college campus (Marquette) and fun scene on Water St., etc. is not a party city? You seriously have no f’ing clue what the hell you’re talking about. Furthermore, this whole load of nonsense that athletes (superstars or not) don’t want to live in small markets, is a ridiculous myth. Ask any Packers player how much they love not having to deal with traffic. Same goes for all small markets. Case closed.

    • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Most of the big breweries are gone (Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz) and replaced with a lot of smaller ones. Do the players care about microbreweries? Probably not for the most part. OK so you have Water Street. That is a half mile of fun, then what? Other cities offer more than just a party district and some nice restaurants. Such as beaches, warm weather, bigger/more metropolitan opportunities, a better landscape (mountains in the background or the like), and/or vibrancy. Don’t get me wrong. I have lived in the Milwaukee area for 47 years. I have seen it in its better days (60’s and 70’s) but it has been on a slow decline ever since. People and businesses leaving for greener pastures. Unless you like lakes, cold weather activities, and the corner bar culture, then Milwaukee is your place. However, other cities are much more attractive. Remember, Milwaukee WAS considered a large market. Not any longer.

  16. jollyjoker2 - Sep 21, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    who is this guy, Baghdad bob.. Milwaukee means zero outside of a few union jobs for the players. They haven’t done squat in 30 years

    • devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Actually about 15 years. Did you forget the George Karl years and the Big Three (Cassel, Robinson, and Allen)? But it is still too long of a time.

  17. devilsadvocate69 - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Well, that will be nice Mr. Silver. Milwaukee will have 4 arenas then that they can’t fill. The Auditorium, The Arena, The Bradley Center and a new one. Beautiful.

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