SBJ/July 21 - 27, 2003/This Weeks Issue

Arena switch means revenue for Wave

The Major Indoor Soccer League's Milwaukee Wave anticipates substantially improving its bottom line by moving across the street from Bradley Center to U.S. Cellular Arena, thanks to more attractive dates and a better lease agreement.

The 19-year-old franchise signed a 15-year lease at the facility, formerly known as the Mecca and Milwaukee Arena. The Wisconsin Center District, a public entity, operates the venue. The Bradley Center is also publicly owned but is operated through a private nonprofit foundation. "We went from being the fourth tenant at Bradley Center to the lead tenant at U.S. Cellular Arena. We're getting a number of better dates and have more say in what goes on in the building," said Tim Krause, Wave president/CEO.

Krause said the district approached the Wave about becoming the arena's primary tenant for 18 regular-season games plus the playoffs. At Bradley Center, the Wave had to wait in line for scheduling behind the NBA Bucks, the American Hockey League's Admirals and Marquette University men's basketball.

At its new home, the Wave will have more Saturday afternoon games, as opposed to Bradley Center, where indoor soccer often had to compete against the state's beloved Green Bay Packers on Sundays in the fall. That made things difficult, Krause admitted.

"We're not necessarily competing as regularly with the Packers now," he said.

Wisconsin Center District President Dick Geyer said: "My understanding is that trying to generate revenue was an issue for them. They have first priority in the building."

The Wave retains all revenue from advertising sold on the playing turf and dasherboards and shares equally in money gained from selling permanent signs, according to Krause.

"We didn't have much of anything with sponsorships and advertising at Bradley Center," he said. "All that was pre-determined by the building."

The Wave pays a per-game facility rental fee with built-in attendance incentives. If the team maintains crowd numbers in the 5,000-7,000 range, "they get percentages back from the district," Geyer said. He declined to disclose exact figures.

The district retains food and beverage concessions and parking receipts.

The public body spent $1 million to upgrade the 53-year-old arena for soccer. Overall, U.S. Cellular Arena underwent $10.5 million in renovations in 1999.

The Wave keeps all ticket revenue with the exception of a $2 facility fee, which the district receives to pay for the renovations, Geyer noted.

Seating capacity will be 9,800.

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