April 23rd, 2008

Bradley Center Drops Naming Rights Effort

The Business Journal of Milwaukee

The Bradley Center has dropped efforts to sell the naming rights to the downtown Milwaukee sports and entertainment facility after the children of Jane Bradley Pettit, the philanthropist who donated $90 million to build the center, publicly opposed the effort.

In a statement released late Tuesday evening, Bradley Center officials said they will end a contract with The Bonham Group, the Denver sports consulting firm retained by the Bradley Center. The Bradley Center board hired Bonham earlier this year to find a firm that would buy the naming rights, with a hope of raising at least $30 million.

“We have decided to end any efforts to seek naming rights for the building as a way to help strengthen the long-term health of the Bradley Center,” Ulice Payne, chairman of the Bradley Center board, said in a statement. “As we have stated previously, it was always our intention to approach this issue in a respectful manner and with the family’s involvement. Like everyone else in our community, we are grateful for the long-standing and diverse philanthropic efforts of the Bradley family.”

Jane Bradley Pettit donated $90 million to build the Bradley Center in 1988 in memory of her father, Harry Bradley, who was one of the founders of Allen-Bradley Co. In a letter Tuesday, Lynde Bradley Uihlein and David V. Uihlein Jr., Pettit’s daughter and son, said they opposed the sale of naming rights, saying it would have little impact on the building’s financial future.

The Bradley Center has spent about $6 million over the past two years in upgrades and recently hired a developer to look at building a mixed-use project to the north of the facility.

All of the efforts are aimed at extending the life of the 20-year-old building and providing enough funding to secure the Milwaukee Bucks to a long-term lease and allow them to compete against teams in larger markets, such as Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

The Bradley Center is the third-oldest active NBA arena and also is one of only six NBA facilities without a corporate name. 

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