The Bradley Center (known as the BMO Harris Bradley Center under sponsorship agreements) is an indoor arena located on the northwest corner of North 4th and West State Streets in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States.
It is home to the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and the Marquette University men's basketball team. It is also the former home of the Milwaukee Wave of the MISL, from 1988 to 2003, the original Milwaukee Mustangs of the AFL from 1994 to 2001, along with the second incarnation of the team from 2009 to 2012, the Badger Hockey Showdown from 1989 to 2002, and the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL (and formerly of the IHL) from 1988 to 2016.
The arena was opened on October 1, 1988 with an exhibition hockey game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Edmonton Oilers. At $90 million, it was meant to be a modern replacement of its current cross-street neighbor, The MECCA (now named the UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena), which was built in 1950. The arena was mainly built as an attempt to attract an expansion franchise for the National Hockey League, though this never occurred, and the International Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals (later moving to the American Hockey League) used the arena for the majority of its existence. The MECCA, during much of its time operating as an NBA facility, had the league's smallest seating capacity, holding just over 11,000 people. Funds to build the Center were donated as a gift to the State of Wisconsin by broadcaster/Admirals owner Lloyd Pettit and his wife, Jane Bradley Pettit, in memory of Jane's late father, Harry Lynde Bradley of the Allen-Bradley company.
Despite being one of the premier NBA facilities when completed in 1988, it is currently one of the oldest active NBA arenas (The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit also opened in 1988), only behind Madison Square Garden in New York City (which was renovated in 2011), and Oracle Arena in Oakland (which was significantly remodeled during the mid-1990s and will be replaced with the Chase Center in downtown San Francisco in approximately fall 2019). The donation from the Pettits did not include provision for the building's long-term capital needs or annual operating expenses. While the facility is self-sufficient, in recent years its tenants have been at a disadvantage compared with other NBA teams due to the arrangement.
Building a new, state-of-the-art downtown arena was proposed by former Bucks owner and former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, but the community reaction to the idea of a publicly funded arena has been mostly negative. In 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle included a provision in the state's capital budget seeking $5 million in state bonding support to renovate the Bradley Center. The Bradley Center's board of directors told state officials that the building needs $23 million in renovations, so they reportedly agreed to raise the remaining $18 million on their own.
Over the summer of 2010 the arena's longtime Sony Jumbotron scoreboard was replaced with a new 3.5-million-pixel LED unit manufactured by TS Sports and Lighthouse Technologies, and was put into service in October 2010 at the start of the Admirals season. Unlike many other NBA and NHL scoreboards, the bottom panel also has an LED screen, allowing display of many images above the floor itself rather than a static image of a sponsor or team logo.
On May 21, 2012, the Bucks' then-owner Herb Kohl and representatives from BMO Harris Bank announced that the bank had officially purchased the naming rights for the Bradley Center, and it would now be called the "BMO Harris Bradley Center".
On September 18, 2013, then-deputy NBA commissioner Adam Silver toured the arena and found it unbefitting of an NBA team. Silver said that the building was a few thousand square feet short of NBA standards, and also lacked numerous amenities. The NBA issued a mandate requiring the Bucks to relocate, or be close to completion of a new facility, by 2017.
On April 16, 2014, Bucks' owner Herb Kohl announced an agreement to sell the franchise to New York City hedge-fund investors Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens. The deal included provisions for $100 million each from Kohl and the new ownership group, for a total of $200 million, toward the construction of a new downtown arena.
On July 15, 2015, the Wisconsin Senate approved funding for the new Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center by a 21-10 margin, and on July 28, 2015, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved funding by a 52-34 margin. On August 12, 2015, Governor Walker signed the arena spending plan at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Over the summer of 2016 with the return of the Admirals to the Panther Arena, the Bradley Center was modified to allow the new arena to be constructed north of it and to continue to operate for its last two years. The arena's icemaking plant and HVAC buildings were torn down, with the arena's cooling facilities moved to a smaller facility confined away from the construction site and the remaining Disney on Ice shows in 2017 and 2018 (the venue's last scheduled shows using ice) to use portable icemaking equipment. A new loading dock will be constructed, and trash disposal will move to a disguised chute along the east side of the building.
The arena hosted the NCAA Frozen Four finals in 1993, 1997 and 2006 and the Great Midwest Conference men's basketball tournament in 1995.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center also played host to the first UFC event in Wisconsin: UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle on August 14, 2011. UFC 164 was also held at the arena on August 31, 2013.
The Bradley Center was a host site for second and third-round games in the 2014 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, for the sixth time since 1992.
The Bradley Center has been a fixture for World Wrestling Entertainment since February 1989 when it hosted The Main Event II, where the Mega Powers of Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan "exploded", setting up a match between the two stars at Wrestlemania V. Shortly thereafter, WWE's ratings fell and they began using the smaller MECCA for shows.
In the early 2000s, WWE, returned and the Bradley Center has hosted Pay Per View shows No Way Out (2002), Taboo Tuesday (2004), and Elimination Chamber (2012). The Bradley Center also regularly hosts Raw and SmackDown. The third annual Fastlane pay-per-view will be held at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 5, 2017, the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania 33.
Diana Ross was scheduled to perform during her Return to Love Tour on July 16, 2000, but the show was cancelled, due to low ticket sales.
Lady Gaga brought The Monster Ball Tour to the arena on September 2, 2010 to a sold out crowd.
Early auditions for the tenth season of American Idol were held at the arena on July 21, 2010.
Justin Bieber brought his Believe Tour to the arena on October 21, 2012 to a sold out crowd.
The arena hosted Taylor Swift's Speak Now World Tour on June 8, 2011. During which, the event was broadcast on national television during the 2011 CMT Music Awards when Swift accepted the award for Video of the Year via satellite. She did not attend the awards ceremony in order to perform the concert.
The Bradley Center hosted P!nk's Truth About Love Tour to a sold out arena, on January 9, 2014.
On September 25–26, 2015, Garth Brooks performed 3 separate shows at the arena during his World Tour along with his wife Trisha Yearwood and Country newcomer Karyn Rochelle.
Bruce Springsteen's sold out show on March 3, 2016 is his eighth time playing the venue, the most of any artist.