SBD/May 22, 2012/Facilities

BMO Harris Bank Inks Six-Year Naming-Rights Deal For Bradley Center

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The BMO Harris name will soon be added to interior, exterior of Bradley Center
Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank has “secured the naming rights to the Bradley Center as part of a new six-year sponsorship deal aimed at helping extend the building’s life during the debate over a new basketball arena,” according to Mark Kass of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The new name of the building will be the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The BMO Harris name “will soon be added to interior and exterior signage at the Bradley Center, the building’s main scoreboard and event tickets.” The naming-rights deal for BMO Harris is the bank’s “biggest commitment to the Milwaukee area since it bought Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp." in July '11. BMO Harris officials declined to say “how the bank was paying for its sponsorship deal.” A source said that the bank was “paying more than" $1M annually for the naming rights and corporate sponsorship. As part of its deal, BMO Harrris is “establishing the BMO Harris Boys & Girls Club program, which will set aside seats at Bucks home games for Milwaukee-area nonprofit organizations” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/21). In Milwaukee, Don Walker reports the new name “has already appeared on the electronic sign outside the nearly 24-year-old facility.” The name change “represents a shift in position for Lynde Bradley Uihlein and David V. Uihlein Jr., the daughter and son of the late philanthropist Jane Bradley Pettit.” It was Jane Bradley Pettit's $90M donation “that led to the construction of the Bradley Center in memory of her father, Harry Lynde Bradley.” The family four years ago said that selling naming rights “would degrade their mother's gift.” The BMO Harris contribution, coupled with “significant sponsorship commitments from Harley-Davidson, Kohl's Corp., Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation as well as other companies, totals more than" $18M over six years. BMO Harris also announced “a separate six-year sponsorship agreement with the Bucks.” The bank also has a sponsorship deal with the Bulls (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/22). BMO Harris' Canada-based parent company, BMO Financial Group, also has naming-rights to the home venue of MLS Toronto FC (THE DAILY).

STOPGAP MEASURE? Bradley Center BOD Chair Marc Marotta yesterday said that venue officials are “close to a lease agreement with the Bucks that could be for as long as five years.” In Milwaukee, Kass wrote the lease "could secure the team's future in the city until a new basketball arena is built.” The team over the past several years “has operated on a one-year lease,” and played this past season "with no lease, operating under the terms of a lease that expired Sept. 30, 2011.” Marotta said that the deal “would be at least three years, but could be as much as five years.” Kass noted under the team's past leases, the Bucks pay no rent and receive 27.5% of "total gross receipts from concessions other than programs and merchandise at all events.” The team also receives 13.75% of "gross revenue from food and beverages sold in the building's luxury suites," as well as 30% of merchandise sales at Bucks games (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/21).

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE: A MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL editorial states if the community “wants to do what it can” to keep the Bucks in town, a new facility “is needed to replace the Bradley Center.” But yesterday's announcement “buys much-needed time.” The $18M over six years “pledged by a group of private companies will provide the funds necessary to do some basic brick-and-mortar maintenance and some other things.” Still, the editorial states, “Only a public-private partnership will get this done. The economic health of Milwaukee is critical to the economy of Wisconsin. And a vibrant downtown with a state-of-the-art arena that can keep the Bucks in town and attract major events can have a significant positive impact on the city's health” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/22).
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