Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Did Donovan Make Bauman Soil His Pants?

Another week, another Ald. Donovan anti-streetcar press conference. Plus: will the Bucks get a new owner and new arena? And: East Side zoning changes and the return of the Downtown Trolley loop.

By - May 24th, 2012 03:16 pm
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Bob Donovan and the Milwaukee Streetcar

Bob Donovan and the Milwaukee Streetcar

Alderman Bob Donovan is becoming a specialist in anti-streetcar press conferences. This time he held the press conference at a bar in his district instead of City Hall, and this time (too bad for those of us who like street theater) Alderman Bob Bauman chose not to attend. Bauman’s absence didn’t stop Donovan from referencing his own blow-up last week. In case any of you thought Donovan looked outflanked last week, he now claims that when he slammed his fist on the podium during the prior press conference Bauman soiled his pants (video).

I stand by my past prediction that Donovan will continue to create press releases and press conferences on the streetcar. It’s pretty apparent why Donovan has chosen this time to make it a big issue: Mayor Tom Barrett is running for Governor, and Donovan doesn’t mind undercutting the mayor’s campaign. Win or lose for Barrett, Donovan is likely to be a lot less interested in this issue come June 6th.

A New Basketball Arena?

Yes, they’ve tried before, but it looks there will be renewed effort to create a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, and this attempt– which is beginning to feel like a full court press — isn’t likely to be abandoned.  The announcement of naming rights for what will be known as the BMO Harris Bradley Center is the linchpin to the latest strategy. The MMAC, under the leadership of Tim Sheehy, helped broker a six-year naming rights deal with the new bank in town as well as handful of other sponsorships with other local companies. The $18 million in sponsorships (or $3 million a year) are to serve as a bridge to a new arena. They also send a signal that some of Milwaukee’s businesses (whose support has not been all that clear in the past) do see it as beneficial to have an NBA team in town.

It’s encouraging that the Uihleins have reversed their stance on the naming rights for the facility after publicly opposing such a deal in 2008. The worst thing that could happen to the facility would be losing its primary tenant — and Wisconsin’s only NBA franchise — to another city. BMO Harris will get increased brand name recognition, the Bucks will get a new revenue stream, and many will still call the building the Bradley Center. It’s a win for everyone.

Of interest from the fact sheet the Bucks released with the announcement is that the Bradley Center “draws 30% of its attendees from outside the four-county metro area of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha County,” which of course raises the issue of which taxpayers (if any) might be enlisted to help pay for a new arena — a very dicey subject. Also of interest in the NBA arena space race, the Golden State Warriors are inching closer to moving across the bay to San Francisco.

Jimmy Goldstein Could Buy the Milwaukee Bucks

Multi-millionaire and NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein seems like a candidate to buy the Milwaukee Bucks, albeit an outside one. The Los Angeles area resident holds courtside season tickets to both the Lakers and Clippers currently, but grew up in the Milwaukee area (his father owned Zahn’s department store in Racine for many years). He reveals in his GQ column that NBA Commissioner David Stern reached out to him previously about buying the Milwaukee Bucks, but the deal never came together because of Michael Jordan‘s interest.

Current owner Herb Kohl is likely to sell the team in the not-too-distant future, and whether it comes before, after, or as part of a new arena being built is likely to be a crucial factor in retaining the Milwaukee franchise. A sale before a new arena would be the worst scenario: I think a Sonicsgate situation would leave a bitter taste in a lot of Milwaukeeans mouths.

Goldstein is well-known among the NBA blogosphere for crisscrossing the country during the playoffs to watch as many games as possible. He claims to have just come off a stretch where he attended 24 games in 23 days. He also owns a fairly well-known house that has appeared in a number of films. If you’re looking to get more acquainted with some interior shots of the iconic home, head to Lebowski Fest at Cathedral Square on June 22nd.

If he were to buy the team, Jimmy Goldstein would be the second Los Angeles-based owner of a Milwaukee sports team, following in the footsteps of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. Including County Executive Chris Abele in a Goldstein ownership group would add a level of intrigue: which of the two long-time NBA courtside ticket holders, Goldstein or Abele, would get the best seats in the house?

Downtown Trolley is Back

The Milwaukee Trolley Loop returns May 30th.  It will operate Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. until 9 p.m. The service will provide rides for $1. Service runs through September 8th.

The route remains unchanged from last year, but if anyone could draw it from memory I would be surprised. The trolley is undoubtedly a positive for downtown Milwaukee, but there’s no doubt a fixed guideway system like a streetcar would be an upgrade.

East Library Land Sale and UWM Zoning Change Approved by Common Council

The East Library redevelopment project continues to move forward. We reported earlier this week that up-zoning for the site had been recommended for approval by the City Plan Commission, and now the full City of Milwaukee Common Council has approved the land sale necessary for the deal. The Standard at East Library is set to open in the spring of 2014. More details on the project can be found on our East Library category page.

In addition, as referenced in last week’s Eyes on Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee’s request for a zoning change for the former St. Mary’s Hospital was approved. At this point the university is not publicly planning a large expansion of student housing to the property. I failed to clarify last week that the action was taken up by the Zoning, Neighborhoods, and Development Committee, not the full Common Council, but this the full council gave its approval Tuesday.  It’s now awaiting the signature of the Mayor.

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