State and Milwaukee Buck officials came together over the weekend to mark the opening of the Bucks team’s new arena in downtown Milwaukee.
The $524 million arena, named the Fiserv Forum after the Brookfield-based financial-services company Fiserv bought the naming rights, benefited from $250 million worth of taxpayer subsidies. Even with that much money going into the project, Gov. Scott Walker argued at the ceremony on Sunday that the state would be receiving a 3-to-1 return on its investment. Much of the money the state is expected to get back will come from income taxes collected from Bucks and visiting basketball players.
“The Fiserv Forum, besides creating a nearly $3 return on investment for every state dollar invested, will also help attract and retain prospective employees for Wisconsin,” Walker said in an official statement. “This comes at a crucial time to maintain our workforce since our state has continued to have unemployment below 3 percent for the last six consecutive months—a state record.”
Walker was joined at the ceremony on Sunday by the Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan and Mike Fascitelli, as well as Jeff Yabuki, Fiserv president and CEO. Also on hand were dignitaries such as the National Basketball Association commissioner, Adam Silver; former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; and Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton; as well as various current and former Bucks players, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vin Baker and Michael Redd.
The new arena has 714,000 square feet of space and will be the center of a new entertainment block stretching from West Highland Avenue to West Juneau Avenue. The Bucks will have their first pre-season game there on Oct. 3 against the Chicago Bulls. The first regular season game is scheduled for Oct. 19.