The Milwaukee Bucks are seeking $ 4 million annually for Deer District naming rights

Milwaukee Bucks Deer District real estate project.

Source: Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks, in their quest to repeat as NBA champions, will begin playing against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals this weekend. Off the field, the team is seeking $ 4 million annually for rights to its site in the Deer District, a 30-acre property located outside their arena.

In an interview with CNBC, Bucks President Peter Feigin described the naming rights asset as obtaining keys to “a city we have created in the state of Wisconsin.” The Deer District is part of the team’s financial development plan, to which taxpayers contributed $ 250 million. And the project also gave the Bucks their over $ 500 million arena, which opened in 2018.

Bucks ownership group includes high-profile investors Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan. The consortium bought the $ 550 million franchise in 2014. It is now worth $ 1.9 billion, a small increase from $ 1.62 billion in 2020, according to Forbes.

The Bucks reckon the Deer District is helping provide more revenue outside the NBA.

“What pro teams now underestimate is – you create the mother ship and get it powered by an NBA team that is successful, and then the water rises around you,” said Feigin, who also serves as president of the team’s arena, Fiserv Forum.

Reproductions of the Deer District Apartment Building in Milwaukee

Source: Milwaukee Bucks

The bucks are landlords

Over the years, several professional sports clubs have added real estate revenue to leverage the popularity of their brands.

The Golden State Warriors operate the Chase Towers, the commercial buildings and residential buildings outside the Chase Center. It helped increase their valuation to $ 5.6 billion, up from more than $ 3 billion before the pandemic. Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Baller is moving his team to Inglewood and will utilize real estate around the $ 1.2 billion Intuit Dome. It could increase the Clippers’ value.

In Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves created The Battery Atlanta, an entertainment and residential area. The Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, also own real estate around historic Wrigley Field. NFL team owner Jerry Jones created “The Star” – a 91-acre mixed-use development in Frisco, Texas, where the Cowboys coach.

Team-driven real estate projects are cities in cities where people “live, work and play,” said Jessi Sanchez, senior vice president of sports consulting and appraisal firm Playfly Premier Partnerships. The company advised the Atlanta Falcons with naming rights around the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Owners are looking to make more money on people who want to be around live sporting events even when they are not inside arenas, Sanchez said. “They are real estate developers now,” he said. “They are no longer just a sports team.”

Sanchez compared the Deer District to the Cubs’ “Gallagher Way” entertainment district. The MLB team sold naming rights to global insurance company Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., which trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reproductions of the Deer District Apartment Building in Milwaukee

Source: Milwaukee Bucks

Feigin, the Bucks director, said his team would “take advantage of opportunities to generate more revenue” with renters, including a supermarket, pharmacy and a gym. High-end apartments are part of the plan, and Marriott has committed to a hotel scheduled to open in 2023.

“We are in full swing with the development,” Feigin said. “We’ve got a hotel that is a third way done. We’re thinking of other principles. We’re going to have people working there and more people living there.”

What is it for business partners?

Sanchez said the Bucks’ asking price for naming rights could match the marketplace, depending on the exposure package. The proposed terms of the contract should be at least 10 years, as he expected it would take sponsors half the time to build on the rights.

Sanchez added that companies receive “more contact points” because mini-cities attract more than sports consumers, but “health and well-being [consumer] to someone who loves entertainment, “he said.

Another selling point for the Bucks is how often they are on national television. The Deer District appeared on Disney’s ABC network during the finale. This exposure “equals impression and value,” Feigin said, noting the over 60,000 people who occupied the Deer District to watch NBA games outside.

Giannis Antetokounmpo # 34 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates during Game Six of the 2021 NBA Finals on July 20, 2021 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Copyright 2021 NBAE.

David Sherman | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

But the Bucks will have to keep winning to make this asset attractive. In the NBA, winning dynasties attract top business. That’s why the Warriors, who have returned to their title-fighting ways, are on the verge of becoming the NBA’s most valued franchise, exceeding $ 700 million in revenue by 2022. The Bucks have an asset that should help them hold on over the years, too: 27-year-old superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, a twice regular season MVP and last year’s finals MVP.

“This is what a championship team and organization looks like,” Feigin said. “We’re on a recovery in terms of what our narrative is and what our results are.”

He said the Bucks saw an increase in business inquiries since July 2021, the month after they won the championship, but did not discuss details. The team added Motorola as its jersey patch partner after the company walked away from the Brooklyn Nets, which was just swept by the Celtics.

“You want the winner to be your accelerator in style,” Feigin said. “These are moments to take advantage of it.”

The Bucks play the Celtics on Sunday in one of their best-of-7 series.

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