Virginia Small

A Tale of Two Buildings

An arena and park pavilion are each called “public-private projects.” But they offer quite different conceptions of the public interest.

By - May 7th, 2015 03:09 pm

An arena and park pavilion are each called “public-private projects.” But they offer quite different conceptions of the public interest. Back to the full article.

Photos - Page 2

Categories: Op-Ed, Real Estate

18 thoughts on “Op-Ed: A Tale of Two Buildings”

  1. mbradleyc says:

    Class envy much? How do you come to the conclusion that the arena will cater to “upscale” patrons? That kind of divisive language does no one any good. The arena will be a community asset. Certainly most functions there will require a ticket to get in. So what? Does that mean having a job to pay for recreation such as games and concerts makes you upscale?

    These will be two very different structures serving very different needs. They will both be wonderful for the entire region to enjoy. Isn’t that enough? By the way, among the purposes of the Lakefront Park building will be to provide 24 hour bathrooms for boaters. Boaters! Now you’re talking rich people.

    Does everything here have to be political? Can’t we all just get along?

  2. Mike Bark says:


    Have you been to many Bucks games? This year, one could get fairly affordable tickets simply because the Bucks literally have to beg people to come to games.

    The new arena is needed by the Bucks because the current one does not generate enough revenue. There is not enough club seating. There are not enough high end amenities. The new arena will be smaller than the current one, so the nosebleeds behind the basket that the average person can afford will be fewer.

    It’s a private business and I’m just not sure why it needs a taxpayer subsidy. The vast majority of us running businesses don’t get one.

  3. BPI says:

    What a load of baloney. That park is fantastic as is, and already offers unrestricted public access without a visitor’s center.

    Do you what’s more sustainable than “one of the most sustainable buildings in the world?” Not constructing a building at all, and letting that open space and beautiful setting breathe.

  4. Paul says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. They are both fine budings, serving comoletely different purposes. Why the negativity? Who cares if it benefits the owners. That’s not really our concern. The question is: will it benefit the public?
    The arena project as a whole may transform downtown. If true, that’s worth some public money.

  5. M says:

    Both buildings, and their purposes, seem worthy. But how can legislators eliminate all funding for state parks, and then advocate for $200 M for one arena?

    Parks and rec also drive tourism and improve quality of life. There’s no way individuals can replace government funding for parks. We’re lucky some folks want to try.

  6. Gary says:

    “… The other will cost $5 million. The nonprofit Friends of Lakeshore State Park says it will ask only private donors to pick up the tab…”

    This feels like a “vanity project” for the FLSP, or frankly, a thinly veiled marina project. So go build it if you’re just promoting an idea. But $5M?

    There’s a cheaper, better collaborative opportunity in partnering with the nearby, adjacent Festival grounds, even including using the existing northern most stage.
    You still spend $5M but add additional slips with an extended project to include year-round public access to that wonderful promenade along the east side of that lagoon. That open pedestrian loop with Lake Shore State Park was absolutely beautiful last fall (although I haven’t seen it open so far this spring). You could even turn it into a romantische “Unter Der Linden” Way.

  7. AG says:

    I like how the visitors center will have no upkeep. Amazing that all this cutting edge technology and environmentally friendly infrastructure will not ever need to be replaced and will last for an eternity.

    In reality, these are both great projects that will benefit the community. One is far larger and will have a much bigger impact, but I’m glad they’re both being done.

  8. Michael H says:

    A ridiculous comparison. This sounds like the many old, stodgy, visionless, fixed mindset Milwaukeans who want Milwaukee to stay in the 1950’s.

  9. David says:

    Bathrooms and showers for boaters and cheesy wedding receptions. My peaceful walks with my dog will now be interrupted by Proud Mary and The Electric Slide. Great.

  10. David says:

    M…. absent the arena, legislatures will still cut park funding. Again, its a false choice.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @David You’ll be more likely to run into more school children learning about the wildlife on the park, fresh water, and so on.

  12. AG says:

    2000 sq ft would be an awfully small space for a wedding reception…

  13. David says:

    It was just a joke, but I promise you….. there will be weddings. All joking aside, I think its a great project.

  14. M says:

    David, you’re probably right about zero funding for state parks regardless of arena (though budget not yet final).

    Walker has also proposed naming rights for state parks (& DNR chair supports it). We’re in a whole new world. The possibilities are endless. But if parks will have to subsist strictly on earned income, we may see more than weddings in them.

  15. Robert R says:

    The comparison with state parks ends when you consider that state parks don’t have the leverage to go to another state to do their business. That’s called the free market at work.

  16. M says:

    Parks of any type are place-based public amenities, not businesses. But major-league franchises have more advantages than others in the “free market,” since they are protected by a cartel/monopoly.

  17. Virginia Small says:

    Gary, I’ve not seen Berlin’s “Unter Der Linden” but found photos and info online. Nice inspiration. Some have suggested that Summerfest’s grounds could be used more off-season and possibly become a year-round public space/destination. Perhaps something to pitch to the city, and LSP folks.

  18. Howard says:

    Thanks Virginia. I get the comparison and appreciate your message, a lot. So we have the public funding a private project and private people funding a public project. And I am sure We-Energies will charge the Pavilion for the solar generated electricity that will be pumped back into the grid.

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