Will Milwaukee Bucks eventually become the new Kentucky Colonels?

The Wages of Wins Network just did some fascinating posts based upon the Business Journal’s series of economic evaluations of existing and potential markets for professional teams in the various sports leagues.

No surprise, Milwaukee was amongst the markets that the study found (Arturo’s recent post shows just how weak the Milwaukee market is) insufficient to adequately support an NBA team.  WoW did a separate post then that suggested six markets that would best be able to support an NBA transplant/expansion team.

Surprisingly (to me, I guess), the NBA has 22 options when it comes to sufficient markets.  Riverside, California (a place I frankly never heard of) is the most sustainable market, however if I were an owner who just bought the Bucks and I was looking to move them out of the creaky Bradley Center and on to greener pastures, I would not only consider the disposable income levels, I would couple with the historic display of an appetite for basketball (after all, a separate study on potential MLB markets lists Montreal as number two– and Montreal has already demonstrated it is not a baseball hotbed).

If you couple the two criteria, and you mix in geographical alignment considerations, the most obvious potential future home for the Bucks on the Business Journal list is Louisville, Kentucky.  Not only is Louisville right in the heart of basketball country — Kentucky — it was once the fairly successful home to the ABA franchise, the Kentucky Colonels.  (If you look at the history of the merger between the ABA and NBA, the Colonels kind of got screwed over by what I would consider regional chauvinism).  Besides, if the Bucks relocated to Kentucky, the NBA would not have to engage in any realignment, and the heated Kentucky-Indiana basketball rivalry from the ABA days (and from college basketball) could resume in the NBA.

Now I know the NBA has become something of an acquired sports taste over the years (if I hear one more adult ask me why I like the NBA, and that it is just a black league, I will vomit — and I’m cleaning up the description they always give it because the uncensored version is disgusting), but basketball is basketball and my guess is that Kentuckians would cherish an NBA team.

I’m not trying to be a pessimist.  I’m just being a realist.  I just don’t see how the Bucks can stay in Milwaukee long term.  The city has never really supported them at adequate levels (even in their salad days attendance was only middling).  If the team thinks they will get a publicly funded arena, they are delusional.  And besides, these days I get most of my Bucks action on Cable television, and with the NBA package that wouldn’t stop no matter if and where the team moved.

6 Responses to “Will Milwaukee Bucks eventually become the new Kentucky Colonels?”

  1. Chicago Tim Says:

    What about Chicago? We could support another team.

  2. Paul Says:

    I didn’t want him to buy the team at the time, but in hindsight, it would have been better for the Bucks future in Wisconsin if Michael Jordan and his investors had bought the team and built a new stadium near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.

    • tywill33 Says:

      Is that what they wanted to do? I still believe the best spot for the team is near the State Bar headquarters in Madison. They could be refashioned as the Wisconsin Bucks. That is their best shot at survival in this state.

      • tywill33 Says:

        By the way, nobody liked the idea when I proposed it. But, the Bucks have a fan base in Madison, and the cite I envision is open and centrally located. It could be accessed much easier than the Bradley Center.

  3. J.D. Mo Says:

    Yes, building an arena near the Illinois border was one idea. Some were convinced that Vegas would have been the destination, but I’m not convinced the NBA would allow a team in Vegas.
    There are substantial development opportunities in Lake and Kenosha counties, where connecting the arena to Metra rail lines and existing entertainment venues was fairly obvious at the time.

    There are more basketball fans in SE Wisconsin than anywhere else in the state, and the additional income base in Lake County, Ill., to support a team. Right now the Bucks are stuck selling the product to Waukesha & the North Shore and it just hasn’t been working. The suburbs around Milwaukee are less and less cooperative, you might say, about supporting anything perceived as urban enterprise.

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