Updated July 29, 2016
The future site for the Milwaukee Bucks D-League team has been narrowed down to five possibilities.
The Milwaukee Bucks have confirmed their finalists to host their D-League team: Racine, Sheboygan, La Crosse, Oshkosh, and Grand Chute
— Sconnie Sports Talk (@SST_WI) June 29, 2016
The NBA Developmental League (D-League) is considered to be the official minor league system of the NBA. Originally just an eight team organization, in 2005, the NBA expanded it to 15 teams, officially making it into a farm system under the professional league.
Today, 22 teams make up the D-League, leaving 11 professional teams without a minor league affiliate. The Milwaukee Bucks are one of those teams, but hope that changes within the near future.
Below is a map of the current 22 teams and their NBA affiliates courtesy of the NBA D-League official site.
Recently, many cities in the state of Wisconsin have expressed interest in obtaining a new D-League team for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks will be one of eight teams entering the 2016-17 season without its own affiliate and administration hopes that will be changing soon.
In early May, General Manager John Hammond hinted on 620 WTMJ about its plans to bring in a Bucks minor league team.
In the interview, Hammond didn’t drop the ball on any specifics, but did indicate the Bucks expect to add their own affiliate “probably within one more season.”
Recently, the Bucks have had to endure assigning their players to other team’s affiliates, which holds no problems as the team of course gets to retain the rights to the players, but it can also hold a lot of obstacles that would not be there if a local team was present.
For instance, when recent players Damian Inglis (Westchester) and Rashad Vaughn (Canton) were sent elsewhere around the country, the players experienced a lot of extra travel and various coaching staffs that interfere with the flow of work surrounding young players.
It looks like the Bucks will not have that problem for much longer. So far, a few cities have already expressed interest in bringing in an incoming Bucks minor league squad.
One of the first cities to publicly announce they would like for this team to be in, Oshkosh has not had a professional team since 1987. About an hour south of Green Bay, Oshkosh would offer an alternative to putting a team in the bigger cities such as Green Bay and Madison. With the Packers in Green Bay and Badgers in Madison, the front office would more than likely prefer to stay away in hopes of avoiding market share and competition.
In order to make his happen, Windward Wealth Strategies, the firm in charge of landing this possible team in Oshkosh, would need to build a 3,500 seated arena for the team. The firm is currently scouting possible locations for said stadium.
“Oshkosh has a long history of supporting basketball,” Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff said during a recent city council meeting. “There’s a lot of excitement that’s being generated because of this.”
Unlike Oshkosh, the city of La Crosse already has a big enough venue for holding a professional team. The La Crosse Center is a multi-purpose arena located in the downtown area that can seat anywhere between 5,000 to 7,500 patrons. In order to be suitable for a pro team, all it would need is an upgrade.
La Crosse Center manager Art Fahey told WXOW 19 Sports that the Bucks have asked the Center to fill out an R.F.P, which is a Request for Proposals form. It is proper procedure that the NBA D-League requires for an arena before a city can host a team.
“This is something that had success in La Crosse. The old CBA is no longer in existence in the form that it was. The D-League is the closest thing to it and La Crosse had some support for it. This is something the city has shown some excitement for in the past.” said Fahey. “We’re very serious. We’re one of a few cities in Wisconsin that the Milwaukee Bucks are taking a look at. So, with the Request For Proposals that they put out, we’re going to take a hard look at it and see what we can deliver.”
La Crosse has had its fair share of connections to pro basketball, most recently being home to two CBA teams from 1985-1994 and 1996-2001. The Catbirds won two titles during their stretch in La Crosse.
Some concerns still linger around the city and the Center. In 2008, the former D-League Arkansas RimRockers attempted to move into the La Crosse Center, only to have the deal fall through because of lease demands.
Recently a new site entered the running, according to Gery Woelfel. Just south of Milwaukee, the city of Racine is now counting themselves as one of the potential prospects for the future Bucks D-League team.
Mayor John Dickert did not hold back when commenting on the city’s plans.
“Yes, we are one of the cities hoping to lure the Bucks’ D-League team here,’’ Dickert said, despite declining to indicate the seriousness of the matter.
If chosen, the city would have its first professional team since the Sheboygan Red Skins, who played in various professional leagues in the 1930s and became a charter member of the NBA in 1949 before disbanding a few years later.
The Red Skins’ former venue, Sheboygan Armory, still stands today, but has greatly deteriorated. Last month, a council met to discuss the plan for the Armory and any long-term goals in case the city is selected to host the D-League team.
Currently, Sheboygan is home to PGA golf course Whistling Straits and the Road America Track. The city is hoping to compliment its current attractions by adding a professional team.
“Certainly it gives the residents of the area another social venue and certainly it helps raise the awareness of Sheboygan,” said Dane Checolinski, director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.
Joining the list of confirmed possibilities is Grand Chute, which is a part of the Appleton area.
Jim March, the town’s administrator, sent in a letter to the NBA a few weeks ago, putting their name into the running and selling the fact that they have multiple sites and facilities that can host this team.
I don’t know exactly what they’re looking for,” March said. “I just wanted to throw our hat into the ring.”
A facility would need to be built, but there are no plans set in stone yet.
“There are no plans for building a venue for (the Bucks),” March continued. “There are no plans for anything until we hear from them, if they’re even interested in us.”
There is no timetable for this decision yet.