Bucks president says new arena offers ‘transformational opportunity’ 
Gives keynote address at Waukesha County Exec awards

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Oct. 16, 2015

WAUKESHA - Peter Feigin said it takes a strong city to make a strong state, and Milwaukee can’t become a strong city without the help of places like Kenosha, Racine and Waukesha.

During his keynote address at the 2015 Waukesha County Executive Awards banquet on Thursday, the Milwaukee Bucks president said the work of thousands of employees from those outlying communities is what will make the team’s - and the city’s - future a bright one.

“We really are one town,” Feigin said. “A very strong major city makes for a strong state and Milwaukee needs a lot of help in becoming a very strong city. The fact is, we have this opportunity - really this transformational opportunity - to take 30 acres of what really is downtown Milwaukee and create a place where thousands of people live, work and play.”

Earlier this year, the state approved a $500 million deal for a new downtown arena and entertainment district. The deal, which received bipartisan support, puts taxpayers on the hook for an initial investment of $250 million initially, with current owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and former owner Herb Kohl contributing another $250 million.

The public’s commitment can grow up to $400 million with interest over 20 years.

County Executive Paul Farrow - who was still a state senator when the deal was approved - joked that had the deal fallen through, he had some land for Feigin in Waukesha County, but the team’s name would have to be tweaked slightly to the “Milwaukesha Bucks.”

Feigin said the team now has an opportunity to do things that have “never been done before.” With the new arena still years away, the team will focus on improving the fan experience at the Bradley Center while it remains the Bucks’ home, and will work on “humanizing” the team’s young stars, including Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“The more you guys know our owners, you’ll see the vision really isn’t creating a new arena,” Feigin said. “The vision is about how can we recreate what people think of Wisconsin. Which is kind of fun and very exciting. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Building ‘Bridges’

Among the big winners of the County Executive awards themselves was the Waukesha County Federated Library System, which was named the government agency of the year.

The library system was picked for its efforts in joining the Waukesha and Jefferson county systems into one entity - the Bridges Library System - which is expected to add thousands of new items to the system’s collection.

“I think we worked with just about everyone who is employed by the county over the past year,” Bridges Library System Connie Meyer said. “I think we became known as the little department that could ... make a lot of work for everyone else.”

By adding Jefferson County’s library system as part of a joint county system, state aid is projected to increase by $258,000 beginning in 2016 - revenue that would result in increased expenditures for programming services, mileage and per diem costs and system technology costs to additional libraries.

The plan would reduce annual charges for the 16 Waukesha County member libraries - saving more than $4,000 for the Pewaukee Public Library and nearly $14,000 for the Waukesha Public Library.

Also honored was the Waukesha County Community Dental Clinic, Inc. - named the large nonprofit of the year - and National Alliance on Mental Illness of Waukesha County, which was named small nonprofit of the year.

Saving the biggest award for last, the Ellenbecker Investment Group was tabbed as business of the year.

Karen Ellenbecker, the group’s founder, said she wanted to change the perception of the industry when she started the Pewaukee-based financial advising company nearly 20 years ago.

Starting with just three employees, the company now has a staff of 22 workers - 21 of whom are women. Ellenbecker said that wasn’t by design, but found women have a different way of listening to clients that benefits her company.

“They often hear what’s not being said,” she said, “and they have the courage to ask that question and to take what they hear to the next step.”

Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com