RACINE — The city will continue its efforts to bring an arena and hotel development to Downtown Racine despite the Milwaukee Bucks choosing to locate its D-League franchise elsewhere.
“While it is disappointing to not get the Milwaukee Bucks organization as a tenant, this by no means makes the project any less critical,” Mayor John Dickert said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“For as long as I have been mayor, Racine business leaders have been asking for another hotel Downtown. The best way to attract good hoteliers is to provide an ongoing source of visitors — and that is the function of the proposed event center.
“We have a commitment for a hockey team and look to add another tenant. Perhaps an indoor football or soccer team would fit the bill,” Dickert’s statement continued. “All the economic benefits we anticipate will continue to be possible with the addition of the event center and hotel.”
A conceptual plan calls for a $46 million Racine event center at the corner of Gaslight Drive and Lake Avenue. Minnesota Wild owner and Racine native Craig Leipold has pledged to help bring a United States Hockey League team to the facility should the project come to fruition.
Officials say it could also host a variety of sports, conventions, concerts and other events.
In the statement, Dickert also congratulated Oshkosh on getting the team and thanked Bucks Vice President Alex Lasry for considering Racine.
Bucks discuss Oshkosh choice
The Bucks formally announced Oshkosh as the location for its NBA D-League franchise at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. The team plans to begin playing in late 2017, according to the team’s website.
“This is an incredibly important day for our franchise and an exciting day for basketball fans across Wisconsin,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said. “When our ownership group bought the team three years ago, one of the goals was how to build basketball in the State of Wisconsin. Truly, this is the biggest opportunity, and this can and will be our state’s game.”
There is no official name for the team yet, although the project is called “Fox Valley Basketball” and a contact form for season tickets has been set up. Feigin gave Oshkosh credit for blowing him away with its support.
“The passion, the appetite, the thirst that this community has had for a D-League team and to partner with the Milwaukee Bucks has just been overwhelming,” Feigin said.
Bucks General Manager John Hammond also thanked Oshkosh for welcoming the organization.
“In the visits that we had with the city leaders and with others on the committee to help bring this team here to Oshkosh, we feel very secure that this is where we’re supposed to be, where we want to be and where we’re going to call home,” Hammond said.
Local wealth manager Gregory Pierce, a part-owner of a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, appears to have been pivotal in the Bucks’ decision process. Feigin called him the “quarterback of the team to get this done in Oshkosh.”“There’s not been a better partner, there’s not been a better person with business acumen and more importantly, interpersonal skills, to make us all feel great about what we’re doing in Oshkosh than Greg Pierce,” Feigin added.Pierce said cooperation from Mayor Steve Cummings, Oshkosh city administration and the Oshkosh City Council was vital to the bid’s success.“I was a little worried that I needed to work with the public sector to get this done,” Pierce said. “They were as charged up about this idea as anyone.”The Bucks’ website also has renderings for an arena, which was preliminarily approved by the Oshkosh City Council in January and will be built at the site that formerly housed Oshkosh furniture giant Buckstaff Furniture. The arena will seat 3,500 fans and be completed by fall 2017, according to the website.“We’re transforming our downtown into something new, a place that can attract families and young people who want to live downtown,” City Manager Mark Rohloff said.
“While it is disappointing to not get the Milwaukee Bucks organization as a tenant, this by no means makes the project any less critical.”— Mayor John Dickert, about the proposed arena/hotel in Racine
“While it is disappointing to not get the Milwaukee Bucks organization as a tenant, this by no means makes the project any less critical."
— Mayor John Dickert, about the proposed arena/hotel in Racine