Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigen told Wisconsin lawmakers Monday that unless state legislators come across with $250 million in public financing to help construct a new downtown arena, the NBA will buy back the club for a $25 million profit and move it to “Las Vegas or Seattle.” Feigen didn’t elaborate, just threatened by invoking the empty market in Seattle.
Speaking at an informational hearing held by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, Feigin said the team’s purchase agreement includes a provision that construction on a new arena must start in 2015. That needs to happen by October or November, according to Feigin, or else the NBA will initiate action to relocate the franchise.
The Bucks’ lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center expires in 2017.
The Bucks have been in Milwaukee since 1968 and have played in the Bradley Center since 1988.
Owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jimie Dinan have agreed to work with former owner Herb Kohl to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, pledging $250 million in private money toward construction. The public would be on the hook for the $250 million balance of the $500 million project.
Seattle has been without an NBA franchise since 2008, when the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City. Attempts to re-acquire a team have failed (Sacramento Kings) and stalled due to a lack of a suitable facility and local resistance to hedge fund manager and Seattle native Chris Hansen’s attempts to build one in the Sodo district.
The NHL opened Monday an application period for cities interested in either of two potential expansion teams for the 2017-18 season. But Hansen’s memorandum of understanding with the city council calls for basketball first.
There has been neither a move to rewrite the document for hockey first, nor a private partnership in his proposed arena for Hansen with a potential NHL owner. Hansen has made clear he has no interest in owning an NHL team.