Take a deep breath and step back from the ledge. Unless there's a major blind side that has yet to come, your Milwaukee Bucks are staying in town.
At the beginning of the month, ESPN's Bill Simmons was the first to speculate that Herb Kohl was closer to selling the franchise than most probably expected:
Last week, ESPN's Marc Stein put an end to the speculation by dispatching a tweet stating that the deal was imminent:
Kohl later confirmed the sale in a statement on the team's official website and now—pending league approval, of course—the former state senator will no longer own one of the league's most troubled franchises.
But what does this mean for the fanbase, and what do they want to see from the new ownership team of Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry?
The answers—such as winning and getting a new arena—are all fairly obvious, but let's take a deeper look at them.
Becoming Competitive Again
In 1971, three years after being founded, the Bucks won their first and only championship to date. Winning so quickly clearly set the bar high, and the franchise has been chasing a second title ever since.
And, like any other fanbase, Bucks fans want to see their team win.
In 2000-01, a year in which they made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks ranked 13th in attendance.
That was in an era when the league was not as popular as it is today, so with another competitive team the franchise could see a resurgence in attendance numbers.
And when it's full, the Bradley Center can get pretty loud:
Of course, a strong regular season and playoff run is always going to increase attendance, but if there's a notion that fans in Milwaukee don't care about the Bucks, the above video disproves it.
It's clear that Bucks fans aren't going to accept mediocrity anymore.
Having not put a consistently good team on the floor since the 1980s, attending games probably just isn't worth the time or money for most fans.
And perhaps all the Bucks need to be competitive again is a few owners with deep pockets who are willing to acquire the players the team needs to contend consistently in a historically weak Eastern Conference.
If Mark Attanasio was able to help the Milwaukee Brewers dig out of the cellar, Edens and Lasry can certainly do it for the Bucks.
And they had better do so because, for the fans, winning is everything.
A New Place To Play
If they have to front some of the cost via a tax, fans will never admit wanting a new arena.
However, deep down, they absolutely do.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center opened in 1988 and immediately served as the team's new home. With a capacity of 20,000—according to the team's official website—the arena has served the Bucks well throughout its history.
While not too many memorable moments have occurred since it was erected, it was loud during the 2000-01 playoffs, as you can see from the video posted earlier.
And even though it's not a bad venue for basketball—concerts are a different story entirely—those who say it's time for the team to get a new place to call home are absolutely correct.
Simply put: The BMO Harris Bradley Center is just too dated.
As Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal wrote, commissioner Adam Silver spoke at a luncheon after touring the arena back in September and wasted little time addressing the situation.
"One obvious issue we all have to deal with is we need a new arena in Milwaukee," said Silver.
What led him to that conclusion?
Kirchen quotes Silver as saying that the arena seems to lack many of the amenities commonly found at most modern arenas today:
'At the end of the day compared to other modern arenas in the league, this arena is a few hundred thousand square feet too small,' Silver said. 'It doesn’t have the sort of back-of-house space you need, doesn’t have the kinds of amenities we need.
'It doesn’t have the right sort of upper bowl/lower bowl (seating) configuration for the teams frankly that Milwaukee wants to compete against,' he said.
Frankly, Silver's phrasing comes off a little crass.
Referring to the organization as "we" and implying that the team provide an arena that caters to the NBA's needs is a little arrogant. Yet, if you visit the Bradley Center, you'd probably walk away saying the same things.
It's a drab arena, with concrete concourses that make you feel like you're constantly in a basement. And while, as mentioned earlier, watching a game there isn't the worst thing, some modern, technological improvements would be welcome.
Could the Bucks get by with just renovating what they have? Maybe.
But renovations don't bring the fans out in droves.
In 2011-12, the New Jersey Nets finished the season with a record of 22-44 and ranked last in attendance. A year later, they moved to Brooklyn, had a new arena and saw a dramatic increase in wins and the number of fans attending games.
Milwaukee is not Brooklyn, but this is just one example of what new ownership, a new arena and a new outlook for the team could do.
Clearly, the jury is still out. The sale is still awaiting league approval and there are no definitive plans for a new arena.
But, for the first time in a long time, there's a glimmer of hope that the Bucks may be able turn things around.
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