There was so much optimism in Milwaukee this season. The Bucks made the playoffs with a young team, they had solid players who could develop into really good ones, and the future looked bright.
Only now that future may not be in Milwaukee.
Bucks president Peter Feigin has told Wisconsin lawmakers to pass legislation that would put taxpayers on the hook for half the cost of a new $500 million arena. Otherwise, the team could be headed to Las Vegas – or perhaps Seattle.
What’s the feeling in Milwaukee right now?
“There’s a lot of trepidation if you’re a Bucks fan in the state of Wisconsin right now,” Milwaukee’s 105.7 The Fan host Bill Michaels said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It’s not shocking because we saw this coming. We knew when the former owner, Senator Herb Kohl, walked away that they put the arena on the table. There’s still a lot of bad feelings in the city of Milwaukee regarding Miller Park. How you can be upset with it, I have no idea, but there still are people that are very upset about that building. People in this area have had so much ill-will toward the senator, the brand of the Bucks – the way they tanked it for so many years. They’ve had it. And now, like you said, there’s so much optimism on the horizon with new ownership that’s being penalized for the past ownerships’ ills. It’s an uphill battle. There’s a genuine concern that this is not going to pass.”
Michaels believes that many people do not understand the issue or what’s at stake here.
“You got to get it through your head: This is all or nothing,” Michaels said. “And if you say nothing, not only do you lose the franchise, but then you got a vacant building that the state’s on the hook for, and you’re going to lose the income that’s coming into that state. So in other words, it’s going to come out of the taxpayers’ (pocket) one way or another. Why can’t you see that? And some can’t see past the words ‘billionaire owner’ and ‘Bucks.’
“People don’t want to hear that (they have to pay more money),” Michaels continued. “Tax payers don’t want to hear that. We are the second- or third-highest tax state in the union, and we hear nothing but arguing over budgets and cutting education. And even though it’s apples and oranges, and even if the Bucks’ deal doesn’t go through, people seem to think they’re going to get $250 million back to the education system and that’s not it. The education system is going to take the money and spend the money. The Bucks’ deal is a bond issue. They’re going to pay that back with interest to the tune of about $377 million. So you’re going to get that money back as a tax payer. They can’t comprehend that.
“You know what it is? It’s, in my opinion, the uneducated masses of the media that teaches the negativity. And all we keep using is (the term) ‘taxpayer.’ They don’t understand it’s a bond issue, and I think it’s been horribly, horribly represented in the media in the state of Wisconsin. And I also think this is a byproduct of very uneducated reporters who don’t understand this system, haven’t been in the state long enough to understand the players in this, and they’ve presented it very poorly to the masses.”