Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

The Deer District Rises

New arena, parking garage and training facility reshape Park East.

By - May 12th, 2017 05:40 pm
New Bucks Arena Under Construction. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

New Bucks Arena Under Construction. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A dizzying array of construction workers and heavy equipment are moving every which way in the once forlorn Park East corridor. The crews are building the Milwaukee Bucks new arena, temporarily known as the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, as well as a massive parking garage, basketball training facility and health center.

General contractor Mortenson Construction is responsible for the arena. J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. is leading the construction of the new parking garage. J.P. Cullen & Sons is leading the construction of the training facility and health center. Overseeing it all is the ICON Venue Group, which serves as the Bucks owners’ representative..

Substantial progress has been made on the arena since we last visited. The first truss pieces that will support the wave-shaped roof have recently been installed. The seating bowl is clearly visible, as are many of the hidden corridors fans will use to avoid the post-game crowds at the main escalators. The frame of the skywalk is in place, connecting the arena with the new parking garage across W. Juneau Ave.

Other projects have made substantial progress as well. The new team training facility appears substantially complete from the outside. Interior photos released by the team show the baskets have even been installed. A view from above shows row-after-row of solar panels lining the roof. The team attends to start occupying the facility in early July following the annual NBA Draft. Connected to it is the health clinic, which looks much further away from occupancy.

While under construction the complex of buildings is collectively known as the Milwaukee Tool Construction Site, likely the first construction site with a naming rights sponsor in Wisconsin history. Come 2018, if not before, another naming rights sponsor will be announced for the arena itself. The 714,000 square-foot arena will include an estimated 17,500 seats, and its massive size compared to the BMO Harris Bradley Center is clearly visible now.

The Bucks have already landed a partnership for the training facility and attached clinic. The $30 million team training facility at 1227 N. 6th St. will be known as the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, reflecting a unique partnership between team doctors, Froedtert and MCW that aims to provide better care to team players and improve player performance. Attached to the facility will be a 37,000-square-foot, $10-million public health clinic at 1247 N. 6th St. known as the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin McKinley Health Center. The health center will offer primary and select specialty care.

The construction on the Live Block entertainment center is cleared to move forward, but has yet to start as the team’s real estate affiliate continues to pursue tenants. The Bucks development arm, Head of the Herd, will still need to seek zoning approval for a recently announced apartment building to be built in partnership with Royal Capital Group on the west end of the parking garage along N. 6th St. Engberg Anderson is leading the design of the 90-unit building.

Design work on the complex is being led by Kansas City-based Populous, with assistance from Eppstein Uhen Architects and HNTB. The Live Block entertainment facility, not yet under construction, received final design approval from the city in January. Design on that project is being led by Milwaukee-based Rinka Chung Architecture in partnership with Chicago-based design firm Gensler (see: Bucks Live Block is a Slam Dunk).



Arena Costs and Timeline

The arena and parking structure have an estimated cost of $524 million, which includes the $38.1 million, 1,243-stall parking garage. The City of Milwaukee is contributing $35 million in tax-incremental financing for the parking garage and an additional $12 million to finance a public plaza to the east of the arena. The Bucks are leveraging an additional $8 million via a developer-financed TIF district to fund the garage. The state and county, primarily via the Wisconsin Center District, will kick in a combined $203 million, excluding interest, via a number of sources including a ticket surcharge and hotel room, rental car and food and beverage taxes. Former team owner and US Senator Herb Kohl contributed $100 million to the arena. The Bucks owners, led by Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan, were required to come up with the rest as well as cover any cost overruns.

The arena will owned by the Wisconsin Center District and leased to the Bucks initially with a 30-year lease. The Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball team will also play in the facility.

The $40 million training facility and clinic, as well as the Live Block development are being privately financed by the team’s development arm, Head of the Herd, and are not reflected in the $524 million cost. Nor is the recently announced apartment building.

A ground breaking for the project was held on June 18th, 2016. The arena is scheduled to open in October 2018, although it has been recently announced that the Live Block entertainment component may not open immediately with the new facility.

Even when all thats done, don’t expect cranes to disappear from the site. The term sheet between the Bucks and city requires the team to demolish the BMO Harris Bradley Center within 12 months of finishing construction on the arena. The Bucks also have more long-term clawback provisions in their deal with the state and county that will require them to develop the remaining Park East land or risk forfeiting it.

The entire arena development is expected to eventually encompass 27 acres, primarily land left vacant since the 2003 demolition of the Park East Freeway spur.

8 thoughts on “Friday Photos: The Deer District Rises”

  1. MidnightSon says:

    Looking at photo #27, it’s exciting to visualize the other developments that will be in view in three years: The Couture, the hotel at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Center, the second NML tower, the BMO Harris tower, whatever goes on at the Journal Sentinel, and then whatever replaces the Bradley Center.

    Plus, whatever will be announced between now and then!

  2. Sam says:

    Do we have a name for the “Live Block”? Are you advocating for the “Deer District”?

  3. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Sam – We do not. Deer District is one of the legal entities that forms the Bucks real estate arm (Head of the Herd being the other leading one).

  4. hereiam says:

    @Jeramey Deer District is an awesome name. I hope it sticks!

  5. MidnightSon says:

    OMG. “Deer District” would be an absolutely awful official name for the area. This is about much more than the Bucks. Also, Marquette basketball, other events, etc.

    I prefer simply, “Arena District.” And, the streetcar stop closest to the arena should simply be named, “Arena.”

    Let’s just hope the company that buys the naming rights doesn’t insist on slapping its own name on anything but the arena, itself. If so, my master plan will be ruined! 😉

  6. rootdown42 says:

    “Arena District”? Wow, that’s a real zinger you got there. I bet you also love cardigan sweaters and your favorite bread is white. “Deer District” is much cooler and unique reflection of Wisconsin itself.

  7. ThatGuy says:

    Personally I think Bradley Town would be cool. That family made a huge gift to the city that should not be forgotten even after the BC comes down

  8. sara says:

    Who will manage your Parking structure.?

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us