Word came earlier this week that the burgeoning #FireKidd movement was successful in getting Coach Jason “Daddy Double-D” Kidd fired as skipper of the Milwaukee Bucks. While there were plenty of legitimate, basketball-based reasons for doing so, undoubtedly the social media-fueled groundswell of disappointment in the performance of both Kidd and a promising Bucks team did not go unappreciated by the savvy, business-minded owners.
But as attentive as the owners were to the disillusioned fan base in the case of Kidd, it’s surprising that nearly three years after the initial announcement, and mere months from opening tip-off, we still do not have a definite and long-term name for the Bucks’ new arena.
The Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center is nearing completion at 4th and Juneau in Westown, already reinvigorating and re-imagining an entire swath of previously-forgotten downtown land. But its name is a mouthful, and an obvious stand-in while closed door deals get negotiated for owners Edens, Lasry, and Dinan, and president Peter Feigin, to sell rights to the nation’s next big, shiny stadium.
My bet: Harley Davidson Arena. You heard it here…well, not first, but pretty close.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of signs pointing to anyone but Harley being the sponsor. First, Harley already spent an undisclosed amount this season on being the Bucks’ first uniform sponsor, with a patch on each jersey. It’s possible they emptied their sponsorship coffers already.
Second, Feigin has made it clear that the Bucks are looking for a sponsor with international ties. That could match up well with the upcoming Foxconn location. As Forbes reports, “Harley-Davidson is not a serious prospect for a naming rights deal.”
Yet here I am, still typing well over my allotted 414 words about HD being the sponsor. Why?
One: Harley’s jersey sponsorship is just the tip of the iceberg. The awesomely-named “Cream City Clash” fan section recently became the “Clutch Crew” to fit with the motorcycle theme. The Bradley Center has a Harley Davidson Club, and you can bet the new arena will too. Every 4th quarter there is the Harley Davidson Revv Up, with Bango riding onto the court on a Hog.
Two: Harley may have spent a lot of money on all of the above already, but they’ve got way more to spend still. Once a major sponsor of the Milwaukee Brewers, Harley ended their expensive sponsorship deal literally days before the location for the new Bucks arena was announced. They didn’t decide to simply save that ad money: they’re planning on reallocating it.
Three: Though we know Harley as a hometown product, in recent years their greatest growth has been international. That would fit right in line with what Feigin has said he’s looking for and what the Bucks are trying to be: a promising American brand with a growing, dedicated fan base abroad.
Finally: On April 8, 2015 at 10:30AM, the Milwaukee Bucks were set to announce the location of their new arena. For months the city had been debating where the best location for a new arena might be, and finally we’d have the answer. By 6:00AM that same morning, mere hours before the official announcement, an odd thing happened on Google Maps.
— Doug Russell (@DougRussell) April 8, 2015
If you were to type in “Harley Davidson Arena“, which did not and does not exist anywhere on earth, Google Maps would zoom in directly at the 4th and Juneau location of the not-yet-announced Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. I tried it myself that morning, and luckily Doug Russell of WTMJ posted a screenshot on Twitter saving the evidence. All traces of the oddity were scrubbed from Google Maps later that morning.
Did Google know something the rest of us didn’t, or were they just placing bets and thought no one would notice? It seems a mighty big coincidence that a global media behemoth, with no real stake in our local market, would preemptively guess (correctly) the location of an unannounced NBA arena location, code it into their program, and then give it a plausible corporate-sponsored name for no particular reason. (Or some schmuck submitted it to Google as a joke. But I don’t like that narrative.)
I think Google knew something we didn’t, and perhaps the Bucks just are pressuring Harley Davidson for more money before any announcement.
This has been simple speculation on my part for nearly 3 years, and all the evidence I have to back up my assumption that the Bucks will play in the Harley Davidson Arena by the end of this year is contained in this article. Take it for what it is, but at least give me the satisfaction of saying “I told you so” to everyone at any game for eternity come this fall.
Bonus Evidence: The stadium kind of looks like the gas tank of a Harley. Boom, case closed.