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Official Review by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
While the Milwaukee Bucks recently secured funding and unveiled renderings of a new modern arena, their current home remains the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The BMO Harris Bradley Center became the home of the Bucks when it opened in 1988, it also serves as the home of Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, and the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball team. While no longer a state of the art venue, the BMO Harris Bradley Center remains a serviceable and enjoyable venue.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
One of the areas where the BMO Harris Bradley Center experience thrives is with the food and beverage available. The venue has a large selection to choose from and all items are high quality.
Refuge Café is a small stand that offers what they describe as "deliciously healthy" and "guilt free" options. They offer smoothies and juices ranging in price from $7-$8.50, the Lean & Clean juice containing kale, cucumber, apple, lime, and ginger is delicious. They also offer wraps and bowls ranging in price from $7-$10 with options including Santa Fe, Asian fusion, and vegetarian.
A staple of Milwaukee is Usinger's sausages and the Usinger's concession stand does not disappoint, with hot dogs and sausages ranging from $7-$10. The price is reasonable and the taste is delicious. I recommend the Oktoberfest which is a foot-long bratwurst covered with whole grain mustard, sauerkraut, and caramelized onions all served on a pretzel bun. Other stands include Qdoba, loaded nachos, My Greek Gyros, and the Carvery.
Beer is synonymous with Milwaukee and there is a large selection of that as well. All stands on the concourse serve the basic Miller products and a wider range is available at the Tap House stand along with the Leinenkugel lounge.
The quality of the basketball being played in Milwaukee continues to improve along with the atmosphere at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Sports fans in Wisconsin have long been known as a passionate fan base and the enthusiasm over the Bucks seems to be reinvigorated with the knowledge that the team is staying in Milwaukee long term.
A passionate group of fans located in section 222 stand, cheer, and yell during the entire game. The group even has a DJ located right behind them and provides the type of raucous atmosphere usually seen in college student sections. This would be one of the more formidable environments for visiting teams if the Bucks could consistently sell out the arena.
The Bucks provide a great in game presentation as well, keeping fans involved and excited during all stoppages in play. T-shirt cannons, dunk teams with trampolines, and prizes or parachutes are just a few examples of the fan centric environment created by the Bucks. The in game experience has something for everybody; from families to groups of young adults.
Downtown Milwaukee is a great place with plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Old World Third Street and Water Street are always busy after games and the streets of downtown Milwaukee provide a safe atmosphere for pedestrians. It is nice to know also that the construction of the new arena will take place very close to the current site of the BMO Harris Bradley Center which means the game day routine of fans will not be altered.
Many fans end up going out to a local establishment after a game, as many places run promotions in conjunction with each game with deals for a ticket stub postgame. The ability to leave the game and walk right into the heart of downtown Milwaukee is something Miller Park lacks.
A few suggestions for a drink or a bite to eat include Mader's, Water Street Brewery, and the Old German Beer Hall.
There are several hotels within walking distance of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, including the Hyatt Regency.
The passionate group of fans located in section 222 stand, cheer, and yell during the entire game providing a raucous atmosphere. However, the overall passion from the fans is something that continues to be lacking. As the team has committed to the community and the improvement of the players on the court, the fan support has shown slight improvement and I would expect that to continue to improve. Wisconsin has a passionate and loyal fan base for their teams and they will continue to reciprocate the efforts of the franchise.
The Bucks have ranked in the bottom five of attendance in the NBA every season since 2011.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center is a safe place for visiting fans to attend a game with limited if any issues from the home crowd. With possibly the exception of Chicago Bulls fans, whom seem to get the worst treatment from Bucks fans, the people of Milwaukee cause no problems and are kind and welcoming.
With the BMO Harris Bradley Center being located in downtown Milwaukee it is easily accessible from all directions with interstate access just a few blocks away. Once in downtown Milwaukee parking is plentiful with various garages and surface lots within walking distance. You can keep an eye out for street parking as well as the metered spots become free after 6:00 pm. I recommend arriving early if you want to look for street parking as it may require a search.
The Milwaukee Bucks provide a fun experience at a great value. Single game tickets in the upper level range from $12-$38 while the lower seating bowl is $41-$158. However, a quick search of the secondary market such as Ticket Monster can provide great deals. The Bucks pride themselves on a great game experience that can be fun for the entire family and they deliver on that.
The quality of the game presentation including the video board is always superb.
Another extra for a first as far as I know, the alternate floor. It is commonplace today for teams to have alternate uniforms but for the 2015-2016 season the Bucks have introduced alternate floors. On "fear the deer" nights the Bucks will wear alternate jerseys and showcase an alternate playing floor also, definitely making these games marquee games for fans.
The video board is enormous and very impressive. It enhances the fan experience with HD videos during timeouts and also the best replays. If you can't see something, the best camera angles are also featured, so that sometimes it is better than trying to follow play live.
Attending an NBA game and not breaking the bank is becoming increasingly difficult. Time in the BMO Harris Bradley Center is limited, but for the time being it still provides a family friendly and economically friendly good time.
Member Review by paul on Apr 04, 2010
Amazingly, the Bradley Center is the fourth oldest arena in the NBA. Opened in 1988, it has the feel of an outdated venue, while still providing excellent sightlines from anywhere in the building. With $23M in renovations expected in the years to come hopefully they'll be able to give the Bradley Center some much needed attention, especially in the seating areas. For now, fans will find somewhat cramped seats, but an affordable opportunity to see some NBA action.
Member Review by fookayooka on Feb 06, 2012
I was just at the Bradley Center when they played the Bulls. I'm from Chicago, and I was surprised that about 75% of the fans at the game were Bulls fans. So I wouldn't be able to say I could judge the Bucks crowd very well, but the Bulls fans were awfully loud.
There didn’t appear to be too many vendors on the upper level, but I didn’t eat or drink anything while at the stadium. The upper level seats were pretty good seats. Some of the better upper level seats I’ve been in.
Member Review by mtrebby123 on Dec 10, 2012
The BMO Harris Bradley Center opened in 1988, and has since then been the home of the Milwaukee Bucks. It is by no means the newest or most modern arena, but it has taken strides forward in keeping up with other arenas around the NBA in the past few years.
In May of 2012, BMO Harris and the Bucks’ owner, Herb Kohl, announced a partnership which would see the bank have its title included in the name of the arena. There have been talks in Milwaukee about the need for a new, state-of-the-art arena in the city, but they’re doing all they can to rejuvenate the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Back in 2001, the Bucks were one of the NBA’s best teams with Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn Robinson. At that point, things were great for the franchise. They were playing in front of a pretty full arena every night, and were 13th in the NBA in attendance with over 16,000 fans per game. In 2002, they averaged 18,178 fans, 12th in the league. Nowadays, though, people just don’t necessarily believe in the Bucks. To begin the 2012-2013 season they are 27th in attendance, averaging 13,960 per home game.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Mar 01, 2014
Fans are avoiding the last-place Bucks this season and rumours of a move are heating up. Too bad, as Bradley Center is a good place to watch a game, with tickets starting as low as $10. Food offerings are very good too, and Milwaukee is a fun town to visit. Hope the team can crush the draft and return to prominence.
Member Review by newsome321 on Jul 01, 2014
Fun place to see a game. Fans are really good when there is anything to cheer about and production of the game keeps the fan base involved. Great food options around the stadium both inside and out.
1037 North Old World 3rd Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203
1101 North Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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