Bucks Still Won’t Play in Fiserv Arena
Company denies that they're arena naming rights partner.
Despite a report from Sports Business Daily stating that the Milwaukee Bucks were in “advanced negotiations” with financial services technology company Fiserv for the naming rights to the new arena, no deal is forthcoming according to Fiserv.
“We are not the naming rights sponsor,” says Fiserv vice president of corporate communications Britt Zarling.
That matches what the company said in late April when I contacted them after speculation it was the Brookfield-based company was peaking on internet message boards. It had been discovered that FiservArena.com and FiservCenter.com were both registered in January. Interest was further heightened when commenters started to connect the dots between the Bucks desire for an office tenant in their Deer District development and Fiserv’s search for a new site for their headquarters that has been delayed for months.
Bucks co-owner Wes Edens told the media in mid-April that the team is exchanging contracts with a naming rights partner for the $524 million arena. “It’s a company that’s local. It’s got a national presence.” Early estimates pegged the annual price as high as $10 million, and Edens said the team is happy with the rate they’re getting.
But that’s not what is happening today apparently. According to Sports Business Daily, Bucks president Peter Feigin says the team is “not in final negotiations with any perspective naming-rights partner.”
On a recent arena tour Feigin told members of the local media that he knows what the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center will ultimately be called, but declined to give any further details.
Had it been interested, Fiserv certainly has the cash to buy the naming rights. The company reported $1.246 billion in net income in 2017. Fiserv is publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, with a market cap of $29 billion, and has approximately 24,000 employees spread across the globe, with about 900 working out of their Brookfield headquarters.
Fiserv is evaluating sites in The Corridor in Brookfield, the UW-Milwaukee Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa and the Reed Street Yards in Milwaukee for its corporate headquarters, as well as sites outside of Wisconsin. It previously ruled out a possible site in Schlitz Park. Potential sites outside of Milwaukee include Alpharetta, Georgia where the company has approximately 1,600 employees.
CEO Jeffery Yabuki said the search is focused “primarily within the Milwaukee area” at the company’s May 2017 shareholder meeting. An indicator that Fiserv might stay here emerged two months before that: in March Todd Horvath, president of the company’s bank solutions division, purchased a $1.4 million home on N. Lake Dr. in Milwaukee.
The company has not provided an update on the headquarters search in a number of months.
The state has become involved in attempting to keep Fiserv in Wisconsin. Included in the state’s Foxconn financing package is $10 million in tax credits for Fiserv if it maintains 93 percent of their employees and corporate headquarters in the state. An additional $2.5 million could come from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for capital costs and the selected municipality for the corporate headquarters is likely to contribute additional funds via tax-incremental financing.
Who Else is in the Running?
Plenty of other area firms remain potential naming rights partners for the Bucks, but a number have been crossed off the list.
The team has established “founding partnerships” with Johnson Controls, MillerCoors, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin and BMO Harris Bank, likely eliminating those firms from contention. Feigin confirmed it’s not Harley-Davidson, which has their logo on the team’s jerseys. Foxconn is reportedly out of the running. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Kohl’s and Northwestern Mutual are out, as is Madison-based American Family Insurance.
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