The battle for the Milwaukee Bucks minor league team is now down to three Wisconsin cities. Sheboygan, Racine and Oshkosh are vying for the development league program expected to tip off next fall.
All three are trying to sweeten the deal, with a decision expected within the next month.
Sheboygan has high hopes with a venue already in place for the Bucks’ future stars.
“First of all, it’s either Sheboygan or nothing the way I look at it,” Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen said. “We expected the Bucks to make a decision well over a month ago.”
Sheboygan’s proposal revolves around the 1940s Armory facility, which is in need of a $10 million renovation. Vandersteen says a private group has stepped up to the plate offering to fund the proposal.
“Obviously, in little Sheboygan it would be something to bring people around here,” local basketball fan Anthony Zerger said.
Vandersteen says if the Bucks give Sheboygan the bid, details are still unclear if the city would hand over the property to the private group or rent it out for the season. The upside is a major economic draw that would create around a 100 jobs.
“I think we have the opportunity to draw from our own demographics, as well as Green Bay, Oshkosh and Milwaukee,” Vandersteen said.
The Milwaukee Bucks pushed for a development league team close to home after the NBA set a mandate that each team create a minor league affiliate. Currently there are 30 NBA teams and 19 development league teams.
Racine Mayor John Dickert believes the Bucks’ team should be near Milwaukee.
“It’s very easy for players and coaches to move back and forth, and that’s really what they’re looking for,” Dickert said.
Racine is proposing building a $46 million arena with a hotel on open land along the city’s lakefront. The proposal isn’t just to appeal to the Bucks, but also for hockey teams and convention events.
“We’re looking at a variety of different options for how to pay for it, but the one thing that’s not in our favor is time,” Dickert said.
With a decision nearing, many residents are split on the decision.
“It would be great for jobs, it would be great for fun things to do in town,“ Racine resident Sandy Laing said.
“Any negative tax implication are certainly going to be of concern but I think overall the positives outweigh the negatives,” added Bob Laing.
Oshkosh is another finalist for the bid, with lots of appeal by being further away from Milwaukee, as the Bucks try to expand their immediate fan base. Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings says a renovation project would be privately funded to provide the team with an appropriate arena. The estimates for that proposal are around $14 million.
City leaders have been told a decision could be made as soon as the end of the month.