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Bucks arena opening could be delayed despite further backing

The Milwaukee Bucks may not be able to play in its new home arena until a year later than scheduled, despite the NBA basketball franchise gaining crucial support for the project from a local Council Committee.

Plans were unveiled in April of this year to develop a multi-purpose arena and sports entertainment district in Milwaukee in a project that could be worth as much as $1bn (€873.3m). The development scheme forms part of a project to revitalise downtown Milwaukee.

The new 17,000-seat arena and plaza will cost approximately $500m, with the team hoping this will lead to an additional $500m being spent on additional development of the downtown area.

Last month, the Bucks were handed a major boost after Governor Scott Walker signed off on a deal to commit $250m in taxpayers’ money to help pay for the new arena. The amount will be spread over 20 years, although this commitment will grow to $400m with interest. Current and former owners of the Bucks will spend another $250m.

However, despite having accumulated support over the past few months, one of the minority owners of the Bucks has warned that the arena may not be finished in time for its original completion date. Early plans said that the arena would be ready to host Bucks games for the 2017-18 season, but co-owner Mike Fascitelli has now said that a move-in date ahead of the 2018-19 season is more realistic.

Meanwhile a Common Council meeting in Milwaukee gave its approval of the city’s financial commitment to the development project. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the $47m financing package will be taken up by the full council next week.

The approval comes despite some members of the committee expressing their concerns that support has been based on the new basketball arena, rather than the jobs and revenue the facility is expected to generate. Similar concerns were put forward earlier this week by the Finance and Personnel Committee.