The BMO Harris Bradley Center was an indoor arena, located on the northwest corner of North 4th and West State Streets, in Downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It was home to the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, the Marquette University men's basketball team, the Milwaukee Admirals, of the AHL (and formerly of the IHL) and the Milwaukee Mustangs, of the AFL. It was also the former home of the Milwaukee Wave, of the MISL, from 1988–2003, the original Milwaukee Mustangs of the AFL from 1994–2001, and the Badger Hockey Showdown from 1989–2002.
Following the opening of the new Fiserv Forum in late August 2018, the Bradley Center was demolished to make way for future development. Assets from the arena, including display boards, scoreboards, equipment and sports and concert memorabilia were auctioned off.
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 (currently named the U.S. Cellular Arena), which was built in 1950. The MECCA, during much of its time operating as a NBA facility, had the league's smallest seating capacity, holding just over 11,000 people. Funds to build the Bradley Center were donated as a gift to the State of Wisconsin by philanthropists Jane Pettit and Lloyd 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, the Bradley Center is currently the one of the oldest active NBA arenas (The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit and ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California also opened in 1988), only behind Madison Square Garden in New York City (which will undergo renovations starting in 2011), and Oracle Arena in Oakland (which was significantly remodeled during the mid-1990s). The lack of modern features such as revenue-boosting club seating, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, along with outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, deteriorating seating, outdated event production technology, and insufficient parking around the arena, have all contributed to the Bucks being the lowest-valued team in the NBA and near the bottom in team revenue. The Bradley Center is unique in that it was a gift from a family without any provision for the building's long-term capital needs or annual operating expenses. While the facility is self-sufficient, Bradley Center tenants such as the Bucks are at a disadvantage compared with other NBA teams due to the arrangement.
Building a new, state-of-the-art downtown arena has been proposed by Bucks owner, 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 Bradley Center needs $23 million in renovations, so they reportedly agreed to raise the remaining $18 million on their own.
Over the summer of 2010 the Bradley Center'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 however, 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 September 18, 2013, then-deputy NBA commissioner Adam Silver toured the arenas and found it unbefitting of an NBA team due to its small size and lack of 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 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 Milwaukee Bucks Arena, eventually named Fiserv Forum, 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.
The arena hosted the NCAA Frozen Four finals in 1993, 1997 and 2006 and the Great Midwest Conference men's basketball tournament in 1995.
In March 2010, the arena hosted the first and second-round games in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, for the fifth time since 1992.
The arena has played host for WWE events, such as The Main Event on February 3, 1989, No Way Out 2002, Taboo Tuesday 2004 and the debut of WWE NXT on February 23, 2010.
Diana Ross was scheduled to perform during her Return to Love Tour on July 16, 2000, but the show was cancelled.
Early auditions for the tenth season of American Idol were held at the arena on July 21, 2010.
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.
- "Bradley Center a home-court disadvantage". JSOnline. 2008-12-13. http://www.jsonline.com/business/36087854.html. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
- "Doyle budget includes help for Bradley Center". JSOnline. 2009-03-26. http://www.jsonline.com/business/41916182.html. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
- "Bradley Center unveils details of new scoreboard". JSOnline. 2010-06-10. http://www.jsonline.com/business/96065599.html. Retrieved 2011-04-16.