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Amid arena deadline dispute, council committee changes city's portion of deal

Blocks away from the new arena site, Bucks fans aren't calling foul if the team's new home isn't open by the original target date of  the 2017 season.

"I'm very happy about the future of the Milwaukee Bucks," said fan Kyle Kennon. "If they got to play at the old arena I'm sure they'll deal with it."

"I think they deserve it," said Bucks supporter Nicholas Sonnentag. "They've had a great run in the last few years."

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman never thought it was a significant issue, as long as the NBA knows there's a commitment to build.

"If it takes an additional year to do it right, I'm all in favor of waiting," he said.

Before any shovels transform the vacant Park East land into a state of the art arena and entertainment district, the city must finalize its part of the deal.

A change by the zoning committee Tuesday would not allow the bucks to permanently close Fourth Street between Juneau and Highland for a public plaza. The team could shut it down for special events.

Bauman said it's what the convention center does on Wells Street.

"It's urban planning 101," he said. "Cities don't give up streets unless they're absolutely necessary."

Another change would allow the city to sell the naming rights for a new $35 million dollar parking structure. Bauman said the revenue from that would go back to the taxpayers.

Lastly, the committee increased the number of city residents hired to work on the project. Forty percent of workers must be unemployed or underemployed.

"I think it's valuable to keep the franchise," said Bauman. "I just want to make sure those benefits are maximized in the fine print."

Wednesday, the finance committee will discuss the TIF district that will pay for the city's $47 million arena contribution.

The full Milwaukee Common Council is expected to vote on the deal and make any changes it chooses on Tuesday, September 22.

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