Milwaukee Bucks finalize arena deal with Wisconsin Center District

DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel says the new Milwaukee Bucks arena agreement will “protect the taxpayers.”

That’s because, Neitzel said at a news conference in Milwaukee, it caps public spending on the arena at $250 million and keeps the team in Wisconsin for the next 30 years. Neitzel said “if for some unfathomable reason” the Bucks decide to leave, they’ll be charged somewhere between $200 million and $553 million, depending on how far into the lease that happens.

“This is a good deal for taxpayers, for the community, for the state and for the Bucks,” Neitzel said.

Neitzel, chairman of the Wisconsin Center District, was among the key players in the negotiations. The Bucks will make annual lease payments to the district of about $1.5 million throughout the 30-year agreement and will pay a total of $60 million toward a capital improvement fund.

The team will be responsible for any operating costs and maintenance once the facility is up and running. Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin said they’re on track to start construction on the project June 18 and open the arena in summer 2018.

The Bucks also will pay for any cost overruns, which Feigin said are at $24 million right now.

Feigin called the announcement “a historic event,” crediting the vision of the current Bucks owners and former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, the previous owner who’s contributing $100 million to the project.

“This deal ensures, as Secretary Neitzel said, that the Bucks will remain in Wisconsin and will be the catalyst for widespread economic development for downtown Milwaukee for many years to come,” he said.

— By Polo Rocha,