The Milwaukee Bucks have always been at home on North 4th Street.
The team’s first arena, best known as The MECCA, debuted in 1950 at the corner of 4th and Kilbourn Avenue. It was the home arena for the Milwaukee Hawks from 1955-58 and became home for the Bucks when the NBA franchise debuted in 1968. The Bucks were dominant at The MECCA, posting the third-most wins in the NBA from 1968-88. In 1978, the arena unveiled one of the most ambitious court designs in NBA history, which was created by artist Robert Indiana.
After great success at The MECCA, the Bucks moved across the street in 1988 to the Bradley Center on the corner of 4th and State. The Bradley Center, which was built with funds donated by the family of Harry Lynde Bradley, was the Bucks’ home for 30 years. However, unlike The MECCA, the Bradley Center wasn’t home to sustained success for the Bucks.
Now, the Bucks move another block north on 4th Street (recently re-named Vel R. Phillips Ave.) to their new home — Fiserv Forum. The state-of-the-art arena brings the Bucks into the 21st century with bright concourses, comfortable seats, a dedicated team store and plenty of other ways to enjoy All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
The arena design features a “swooping roof and extensive glass to evoke Wisconsin’s natural beauty and Milwaukee’s rich heritage of industry and craftsmen.” The arena will seat roughly 17,500 fans with about 10,000 seats in the lower bowl, 6,000 in the upper deck and the rest in a ring of suites throughout the building.
The architects describe the entrance as, “a spacious atrium and wall of east-facing glass with escalators, stairs and balconies at every level to showcase a dynamic environment and visually connect all areas of the arena’s interior.”
The block directly in front of the arena is now Herb Kohl Way, a pedestrian-only entertainment plaza for pre- and post-game congregation, special events and more. Kohl owned the Bucks from 1985-2015 and donated $100 million to the construction of the arena when he sold the team to Marc Lasry, Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan.
The 714,000 square-foot arena will eventually be surrounded by an active entertainment district with restaurants and shops. This arena district should bring year-round energy to an area of downtown Milwaukee that tends to go quiet when the Bucks or Marquette Golden Eagles aren’t playing games.
In addition to the new arena, the Bucks debuted a new practice facility and medical center last year that sits just west of Fiserv Forum.
The food options at the new arena will feature local restaurants, Milwaukee cuisines and plenty of special menu items. Drink Wisconsibly, a local Milwaukee pub, will give fans plenty of craft beer options to enjoy.
The new arena wasn’t the only addition for the Bucks this summer. Milwaukee was busy in the offseason, adding a new coach (Mike Budenholzer) and veterans Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova to a core of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. Those moves, plus the debut of Fiserv Forum, have raised the already sky-high expectations for the Bucks.
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