Editorial: Racine turns out a lucky loser in race to land Bucks' affiliate and arena
Our Perspective

Editorial: Racine turns out a lucky loser in race to land Bucks' affiliate and arena

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To quote a lyric from country-music superstar Garth Brooks: Thank God for unanswered prayers.

You may recall that in 2016, Racine was in the running to become a minor-league home of the Milwaukee Bucks. A Bucks affiliate was to be placed somewhere in Wisconsin, and there was a talk of building a Downtown arena to have that team awarded to Racine.

Racine and other Badger State cities lost out to Oshkosh, which became the home of the new Wisconsin Herd of the NBA Gatorade League, formerly known as the NBA Development League. In Racine, the arena plan fizzled out and was finally squelched in one of Cory Mason’s first acts as mayor.

Thanks for that, Mr. Mayor. We liked that decision in late 2017, and we like it even more today.

The Oshkosh-based developer of Menominee Nation Arena, home of the Milwaukee Bucks’ minor league basketball team, has voluntarily filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to documents filed last week with the Wisconsin Eastern Bankruptcy Court, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported Wednesday.

Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc. operates Menominee Nation Arena, a 3,500-seat arena in Oshkosh that was built for the Herd. The Bucks are the primary owners of the Herd. Fox Valley Pro Basketball is leasing the arena property, which is a redevelopment site, from the City of Oshkosh.

In the bankruptcy filings, Fox Valley Pro Basketball claims it has between 100 and 200 creditors and has liabilities and assets between $10 million and $50 million.

The list of creditors who have the 20 largest unsecured claims against Fox Valley Pro Basketball are owed a total of $8.87 million. The list of unsecured creditors includes banks, individuals and the Wisconsin Herd, which is owed $340,000 in sponsor expenses, commissions and fees. The largest amount owed to a single creditor is $3 million.

Fox Valley Pro Basketball also owes $13.1 million to Bayland Buildings Inc. for building the arena, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported Tuesday. The arena cost $19.3 million to build and was completed for the start of the Herd’s inaugural season in November 2017.

We were never that optimistic about a truly professional minor-league team’s chances for success in Racine. The enthusiasm for such entertainment here in the Chicago-to-Milwaukee corridor seems limited – just ask Kenosha, which lost its Minnesota Twins affiliate to Lansing, Mich., after the 1992 season and hasn’t had pro baseball since.

We certainly didn’t want to see taxpayer money going to build an arena for such a team. In the past 23 years, Racine County residents have chipped in to pay for new homes for the Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers; at least those facilities have major-league teams and draw capacity crowds. The return on investment for a Racine minor-league team’s arena was iffy at best.

Not that we wish Oshkosh ill, but we’re glad to not have Oshkosh’s problems today. Specifically those of Oshkosh-area businesses owed money by the operators of the arena.


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