The Milwaukee Bucks have the worst record in the NBA at 9-43, which translates to a putrid .173 winning percentage. They are 31 games back in the Central division, 8-24 in a very weak Eastern Conference and 5-21 at home this season. They have lost four in a row and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. The Bucks are also one of the worst-drawing teams in the NBA, but fans can be forgiven for not rushing out into the cold Wisconsin winter to see a team boasting those abysmal numbers. The Bucks also haven’t won a postseason series since the 2000-01 season, having lost in the first round of the playoffs five times since then.
Still, the Bucks are important to the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. Considering how bad the team is, pulling in an average of over 13,000 in attendance is pretty decent, particularly in a cold-weather city. Thankfully, the team’s front office and owner Herb Kohl seem to finally have embraced the fact that the Bucks need to start from scratch and go young; really young. They have started to shed the contracts of older players and have refrained from making reactionary trades that would send out young players to improve the roster for the existing season. In addition, this time of transition to a hopefully sustainable future for a Bucks franchise that was established in the late 1960s is marked by efforts like Save Our Bucks (@SaveOurBucks), a grassroots effort devoted to trying to imagine the parameters for a new blueprint for the Bucks, to re-establish the winning tradition of the past and to form a template for a successful future in Milwaukee.
The Bucks haven’t had an All-Star in 10 years. So where do they go from here? Their future is further clouded by Milwaukee’s need to build a new arena for the team, as the current BMO Harris Bradley Center doesn’t bring in the kind of revenue needed in today’s NBA. Lacking in pizzazz and amenities, the league itself has deemed the Bradley Center outmoded. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who took over from longtime head honcho David Stern at the beginning of February, spoke frankly about the BradleyCenter in September of 2013.
“One obvious issue we all have to deal with is we need a new arena in Milwaukee,” said Adam Silver, deputy National commissioner, speaking of the BMO Harris Bradley Center….
“At the end of the day compared to other modern arenas in the league, this arena is a few hundred thousand square feet too small,” Silver said. “It doesn’t have the sort of back-of-house space you need, doesn’t have the kinds of amenities we need.
“It doesn’t have the right sort of upper bowl/lower bowl (seating) configuration for the teams frankly that Milwaukee wants to compete against,” he said.
The need for a new arena in Milwaukee puts the Bucks, their management and ownership in a tough spot. Not only do the Bucks need to figure out how to fix the present and future in terms of the basketball roster, they also must navigate the future of the franchise’s existence in the city. It’s not easy political sledding, and while I don’t feel bad for billionaires or millionaires, I would feel bad for people in Wisconsin who could lose their NBA team to the dreaded “relocation” factor, should the local government not find a way to rescue the Bucks from the aging Bradley Center, which opened in the late 1980s. It isn’t really fair that the city should have to replace the building already, but that’s the reality of today’s sports leagues. Old, outdated buildings put teams on the chopping block of relocation or contraction. Just ask the Minnesota Twins to the west in Minneapolis, who were nearly eliminated from Major League Baseball in the early 2000s due their tenancy is the decrepit Metrodome. Incidentally, the Metrodome is now being pulled down to pave way for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Whether one agrees with the demands of buildings as imposed by modern sports leagues, or the means to procure those buildings (often taxes), the bottom line clearly is that Milwaukee needs to figure out a way to build a new arena to preserve the NBA in the city for the present and future generations of Wisconsinites. As Save Our Bucks notes, currently “the team can’t give away the product.” Still…they are certainly trying to give it away, and rightfully so.
The Bucks are generous with giveaways. Of course, a team as bad as the Bucks will want to dangle a little something extra to entice potential ticket-buyers. But the Bucks historically have offered great deals that either involve discounted tickets, memorabilia/keepsakes, or special events. All of this leads me to the inspiration for this tirade on the need for Milwaukee to wake up and take action to keep the Bucks in town: the Bucks are throwing a Y2K Night bash on Saturday, February 22 during a home game versus the mighty Indiana Pacers. Not only does one get tickets starting at “Y2K-era” prices of a measly $7, all fans will receive a free retro Bucks pennant. But here’s the real treat: a half-time performance by hip-hop hero Coolio! Seven bucks for a Bucks ticket, free pennant and a “Fantastic Voyage” to downtown Milwaukee: that is truly a “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Support the Milwaukee Bucks!