Walker, Bucks president Feigin speak at Business Alliance event
Discuss possibility of new Milwaukee arena

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Dec. 12, 2014

 Neal Glaesar, president of Denali Flavors Inc., was one of four guest speakers Thursday at the Waukesha County Business Alliance's Key Industries Panel discussion in Brookfield. He was joined by EmbedTek COO Tom Fotsch, Froedtert Health President & CEO Cathy Jacobson and Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin. 
Submitted photo

BROOKFIELD - Newly appointed Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin said his team needs to become a magnet for the city, region and state, and new owners Mark Lasry and Wesley Edens are willing to spend the money needed to do so.

Feigin was one of four regional participants in the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Key Industries Panel discussion Wednesday morning at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel.

The former vice president of marketing for the New York Knicks was joined by Froedtert Health President & CEO Cathy Jacobson; Neal Glaesar, president of Denali Flavors Inc.; and EmbedTek LLC Chief Tom Fotsch in the 45-minute discussion. It focused on stimulating growth and prosperity in Waukesha County and southeastern Wisconsin.

Feigin - who became Bucks president in October - said he has both a short- and long-term agenda for turning the team into a worldwide brand.

“We have to really provide best-in-class service,” he said. “We have to provide best-in-class experience on the court and off the court. We have to make a reason for you to come to the area. We have to make a reason for you to watch on TV.”

He said there must also be a new arena, which he believes will be a catalyst for job development in the region.

No concrete plans have been made for the arena, and finances for it remain up in the air.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who gave the keynote speech at the event, told reporters he has spoken with state legislative leadership and there appears to be “some interest,” in the new arena on their part, but only if it isn’t paid for through a new sales tax.

“We are certainly interested,” Walker said. “We think the Bucks are an important part, not only of Milwaukee’s economy, but I think it is important to have a strong Milwaukee to have a strong Wisconsin.”


UWM poll re. financing arena

A recent poll by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee showed residents split over one financing option for the arena, which features tax dollars coming from the players themselves.

The plan, which proposes to finance the arena with a $150 million bond backed by diverting income tax revenues paid to the state by Bucks athletes and employees, evenly divides Wisconsin voters, with 47 percent opposed and 47 percent in favor. But supporters outnumber opponents 52 to 44 percent within the seven-county metro Milwaukee region.

Lasry and Edens have contributed $100 million to the project, as has former owner and recently-retired U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. The Bucks have until 2017 to get construction underway on the arena, otherwise the NBA can buy back the team.

Meanwhile, Feigin said the front office knows there is a two- to three-year window until a new arena will be ready. Therefore, the owners are focused on the team’s current product and are attempting to create an improved fan experience at the BMO Harris Bradley Center by pouring money into the team’s current facilities to “make the most of the next few years.”

“That’s in food service, game presentation, retail,” Feigin said. “I think our owners have committed a tremendous amount of capital already to do what I call ‘make fixes.’ The people we bring back into the fold have to be content and happy, and know they are getting a good product at a great price.”

Walker said he has not yet attended a game this season, but his two sons have told him there is much more going on with the team this season - and not only on the court.

Feigin remains confident that not only would an arena be built, but that it would help kickstart an even larger vision the team’s front office has for the future.

“They have global vision,” he said of Edens and Lasry, “and it seems out of this world, but the city of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Bucks, the development of an entertainment center, the region of the five counties and the state of Wisconsin will be on the world map. We want to start that.”



Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com