As stated in our previous piece, Frank Gimbel, chairman of the Wisconsin Center District, said that he would only approve tearing down the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena if the Bucks helped build a comparable facility. Unlike the Bucks arena, the new, small arena has no preference on location. Depending on how much the Bucks would put up for an arena, UWM could be left in a jam.
If the Panthers are left to fend for their own arena, the cost would likely come back to the students. In the basketball practice facility pre-design plan, the university stated that building an on-campus arena was not financially feasible based on money that could be raised. Based on other Horizon basketball facilities, the average cost of a basketball facility is around $60-$80 million, per this report from 2012.
Per a source, the most the athletic department would only be able to raise about $8 million, which sets their budget well below the requirement. To make up the rest of the funds, the school will likely look to the student body for the bill. Similar to the 2010 bill that increased segregated fees to raise money for a new arena, students would vote to give the funds through their segregated fees. Although the 2010 bill passed, the funds are currently being held to possibly build the proposed on-campus practice facility.
However, in order to raise the $50 million to help fund a new arena, that would mean roughly 27,000 students would have to pay almost $2,000 a piece to help fund an on-campus arena. Most students already pay over $500 a semester in segregated fees. Doubling that over the course of a few semesters could hit many students hard in the wallet, where some students never have enough. So unless the Bucks help pay for a new multi-purpose arena or an on-campus site, current and future students could be fronting the bill for a massive arena.
With the rally being held tomorrow to protest tearing down the Panther Arena, and the petition to keep the arena nearing its required amount of signatures, students will wisely be considering how the downtown arena debate will affect their financial futures.