BMO Harris Bradley Center – Milwaukee Bucks
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
BMO Harris Bradley Center 1001 N 4th St Milwaukee, WI 53203
Year Opened: 1988
The Bucks Stop (Playing) Here
Editors Note: BMO Harris Bradley Center was demolished in early 2019. The Bucks now play at the new Fiserv Forum.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center is the only major public professional sports arena in the country built through the philanthropic gift of one family. It has served as the home of the Milwaukee Bucks since 1988. During this period the 18,600 seat facility has also been the home court for the Marquette University men’s basketball program. The AHL Milwaukee Admirals were also tenants of the Bradley Center from 1988- 2016. The Bradley Center has four levels of seating, including 42 suites and 16 theatre boxes. Also included in the facility are 14 permanent concession stands, 3 clubs and 4 Bucks Pro Shops merchandise stores.
The thirty year history of the Bradley Center will come to a close at the end of the 2017-2018 basketball season. The arena has served Milwaukee well, but it lacks the size and amenities found in many of the newer NBA facilities. In addition, due to its origin as a philanthropic gift, no funding was designated for capital improvements over the life of the facility. The Bucks will begin playing in the Wisconsin Sport and Entertainment Center now nearing completion just a block away in Fall 2018.
Food & Beverage 3
The Bradley Center concessions program offers a wide variety of both stadium standards, as well as a strong mix of regional favorites. Classic Concession stands offer the following fare: hot dogs ($5), burgers ($8), chicken tenders ($9), BBQ sandwich ($6), nachos ($6), popcorn ($6), pizza ($7), burritos ($8.50), candy ($4.50), ice cream ($6 / dish) and pretzels ($6).
They also offer Pepsi brand beverages ($5.75) and bottled water ($5). As you would expect from the Beer City, there is an extensive selection of beers available at the TapHouse, including Corona, Redds, Blue Moon, Leinie’s, Heineken, Lakefront, New Glarus Spotted Cow, New Castle, and of course Miller Beer brands. Domestic brands are $8.50 and premium brands are $9.50.
Amongst the more popular regional items available at the Bradley Center are brats ($5.50), chicken and waffles ($7.50), polish sausages ($6), Milwaukee dogs ($10) cheese curds ($6.50) and Milwaukee Fish Frys ($11.50).
The atmosphere within the Bradley Center is one of celebrating the past 50 years of Bucks basketball, while looking forward to next season in the new Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center going up next door. Each home game highlights one season in the Bucks history, with trivia quiz contests for the fans during each break in the action. A member of the team from that season also personally makes an appearance at the game and signs autographs in the main lobby of the arena prior to the game. There are many commemorative giveaways on different nights throughout the 2017-2018 season. Another popular activity is to roll back the price of a specific concession item to its 1968 price for the evening.
The future of the Bucks looks bright as they prepare to move into their new home in the fall of 2018, as the roster is one of the youngest in the NBA. Throughout the games, a series of videos featuring some aspect of the new arena is shown, boosting fan enthusiasm. Many of the in-game contests feature ticket giveaways to games for next season.
Milwaukee has a very vibrant downtown area with many great restaurants, bars and attractions within walking distance of the Bradley Center. The arena is located between several college campuses, guaranteeing the nightlife will just be getting started as the game ends. On the restaurant front, Milwaukee is a melting pot of great ethnic restaurants, many of which are located along the riverfront on both Water Street and in the Old World Third Street section. Two restaurants to check out are the Milwaukee Brat House and Mikeys Burgers and Bombs.
When you think of Milwaukee two things come to mind… beer and Harleys. A great way to spend your pregame time on weekends is to check out the Harley Davidson Museum and go on the Miller Brewery Tour. Both attractions are located just west of the Bradley Center area.
You can save a great deal on parking by staying in one of the many hotels within walking distance of the arena. The closest is the Hyatt Regency around the corner from the Bradley Center, but for a more uniquely Milwaukee experience stay at the Brewhouse Inn and Suites. It is a former brewery converted into a great boutique hotel. The lobby even still has the distilling tanks as a furnishing.
When scheduling a trip to Milwaukee, check out the sports calendar to see if you can score either a double or triple header of games in a weekend. In addition to the Bucks, you also have Marquette University playing at Bradley Center. By simply crossing the street, you can also catch a UW Panther basketball game or a Milwaukee Admirals hockey game at the UW Panthers Arena.
Milwaukee fans are very basketball-centric as there are two main sports in town, basketball and baseball. Older fans remember the glory days of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading the Bucks to their only NBA Championship and Al McGuire leading Marquette to the NCAA Championship over UNC. Younger fans are aware of the more recent successes of the University of Wisconsin / Madison reaching the NCAA finals and UW Milwaukee reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
Bucks fans are also very passionate about their rivalry with a certain team just a couple of hours south of town in the Windy City. Though the Bulls dominated in the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen era, the rivalry has been much more contested in recent years and typically sells out the Bradley Center very quickly.
The fans at Bradley are led in their Fear the Deer cheers by Bango, the Bucks mascot. In addition, the team has established a statewide network of Bucks Bars to televise games, promote the team and set up group outings to the Bradley Center several times per season.
Bradley Center has more than 10,000 parking spaces available within a six-block radius around the arena. It is very easy to access from I-43 at exit 72C coming from the west or exit 73A coming from the east, north or south. Please be aware that there may be some street closures in the immediate area of the arena in conjunction with the construction of the Bucks new home. Better yet stay at one of the many hotels located within a few blocks of the arena and walk to the game.
Once at the Bradley Center, there are four main entry / exit points into the facility. The lobbies and concourses are wide enough to allow a good traffic flow within the building. There are 28 restrooms spread throughout all four levels of the building, so you should not expect any long lines.
Return on Investment 3
Ticket prices for Bucks games range from $10 for 400 level seats – $275 for seats at court level. In most cases you should be able to obtain these tickets at standard pricing, avoiding the pricier secondary markets. Parking runs between $10 – $20 depending on which lot you use. Concessions are very reasonably priced.
The Bucks franchise has existed since 1968. In that period of time they have won 13 division titles, 2 conference titles and 1 NBA Championship.
Amongst the top players who have played in a Milwaukee uniform are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Quinn Buckner, Alex English, Gary Brokaw, Bob Weiss, Marquis Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Oscar Robinson and Sidney Moncrief.
As the BMO Bradley Center goes through its final season, it looks back to celebrate the many special moments that took place there. This includes replays on the video board of Bucks victories, visits from Milwaukee’s stars of the past and special theme nights. Stadium Journey bids adieu to the Bradley Center and looks forward to reviewing the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center in the fall of 2018.