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Volume 21 No. 34
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Naming-rights talks in $7M range, Feigin says

The Milwaukee Bucks are in talks with potential naming-rights partners for their future arena, discussing a 20-year deal valued at more than $7 million annually, Bucks President Peter Feigin said.

A deal to rebrand the arena, called the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, could be ready by Labor Day, he said.

The total package could include assets tied to the entertainment district next door, a portion of which the Bucks expect to open at the same time the arena opens in fall 2018.

The Bucks are handling negotiations in-house. Matt Pazaras, senior vice president of business development and strategy, is leading the effort.

A deal at $7 million a year would put the arena behind only San Francisco’s Chase Center, scheduled to open for the 2019-20 season, and Philips Arena in Atlanta among major league arenas where the NBA team is the anchor.

“We’re in the sixth or seventh inning with what we consider two to three finalists in the discussion,” Feigin said. “Our expectation is to get this done by the end of the summer.”

The Bucks have signed two founding partners, Johnson Controls and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. The latter, a health care group, has naming rights to the team’s $30 million practice facility, which will open Aug. 3 across the street from the arena. Both founding partner deals are for $10 million and valued at more than $2 million annually. The Bucks expect to announce two more founding partners this month and another two by the end of August. They could sign up to eight founding partners, Feigin said.

As of last week, the Bucks had five of an available 34 suites remaining to sell, along with five of 33 loft suites, the team’s theater box product with four to eight seats. The team has scheduled 2,700 appointments at its preview center, situated in an old Schlitz beer warehouse in downtown Milwaukee.

Suites cost $225,000 to $400,000 a year. The loft suites run $80,000 to $220,000 annually. Terms for both products are seven, 10 and 12 years.

The new arena’s 1,500 club seats in the lower bowl range from $215 to $1,500 a person, and 80 percent have been sold, team officials said. All told, the average ticket price for all lower-bowl seats is $118 in the new arena compared with $101 at BMO Harris Bradley Center, a 17 percent increase.

The design of the seating bowl basically flip-flops the setup at BMO Harris Bradley Center, with more than 10,000 seats in the lower bowl and 6,000-plus seats in the upper deck. Bradley Center has one of the NBA’s biggest upper decks with 12,000 seats.

“It’s the simple math of having better seats … and a better experience for the fan,” Feigin said. “Bradley Center is very spread out and a high building, and that’s a tough scenario when you’re trying to scale the house for a game or a concert.”

The Bucks expect to announce their food provider later this month. Sources say the team has selected Levy, their current concessionaire, but Feigin said he could not confirm the information because a deal has not been signed. It will be a joint venture between the team and the vendor, he said.

Food consultant John Sergi worked with the Bucks on the deal.