Former Wolves boss David Kahn was a sportswriter in his past life … and now he is one again. He’s been writing recently for Bloomberg, weighing in on a number of sports topics.
His latest thoughts, which came out Wednesday, center around arena size in sports — more specifically in the NBA, and most specifically in Milwaukee.
Kahn’s argues that a small-market team like the Bucks doesn’t need the same size arena as a big-market team like the Lakers. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced this week that he proposes to both cut funding to UW schools by $300 million while also authorizing $220 million in state bonds for a new Bucks arena that could cost up to $500 million, which seems like a cool priority.
Kahn argues that a smaller arena would cost less and create more seating demand. Just how small? Per Kahn:
This isn’t just about Milwaukee: If a new or remodeled arena in a similarly small, oversaturated market calls for anything larger than 12,500 seats, then it does so at its (and the public’s) peril. The construction savings would be enormous — 12,500 seats requires only one seating level (no club level or upper deck) and only one large, well-designed public concourse, not multiple concourses, also reducing points of sale. Not all arena projects are priced the same — land, labor and finishes play significant roles in cost — but the elimination of 25 percent of square footage from a $500 million arena project should roughly correspond to a similar amount of savings. In Milwaukee, that 35 percent reduction in seating capacity would increase demand over supply when the team is winning and help protect the downside when it’s not.
There seems to be some logic here, but 12,500? That seems really small. Kahn holds up Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke as an example of what happens when you control seating supply (though, you know, demand there is also helped by winning).
Overall, we’d say this isn’t a worse idea than drafting Jonny Flynn instead of Steph Curry. But we can’t say we fully endorse it, either.