The CEO of the Milwaukee Bucks says their new arena may or may not help the city:
Perhaps no NBA city is in greater need of a melting-pot meeting point than Milwaukee…
Feigin told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2016 that Milwaukee was “the most segregated, racist place I’ve ever experienced.” While he didn’t want to revisit those comments this week, Feigin said the new arena could help transform the city’s downtown.
“I don’t think this (arena) is a solution for racial harmony,” he said. “But Milwaukee doesn’t have a centralized meeting place. There are no parks in the middle of the city. By building this plaza, you’ve kind of orchestrated a meeting place.
“There are certainly obstacles and certainly a long way to go, but our message is this is a wonderful city. We are an organization that will speak out about injustice, and we are also an organization that is focused on how we can solve problems.”
It sounds like the Bucks CEO hopes the stadium becomes a cosmopolitan canopy site where people of different backgrounds can gather together and find common ground around the city’s basketball team. I am generally skeptical of claims that sports teams can help revive cities or heal cities. See this earlier post about whether the Cleveland Cavaliers winning an NBA championship would revive the fortunes of Cleveland. For an arena, will a few hours of watching basketball help fans truly cross race and class boundaries? A general civic pride might develop but I would guess many sports fans can compartmentalize their love for a winning team and their relationships, abstract or otherwise, with the other.
News of foreclosure proceedings on NBA player O.J. Mayo’s house in the Milwuakee suburbs includes a description of his large home:
Built in 1995, the “contemporary” dwelling includes some ceilings as high as 20 feet. That’s tall enough to stack three O. J. Mayos on top of each other! The first floor has 4,298 square feet while the comparatively diminutive second floor has just 1,652 square feet. The 3,929 square foot basement has 2,250 finished square feet of floor space — plenty of room for a home theater (to watch those game highlights), a pool table, a bar, and all sorts of other jock stuff. There are two fireplace openings in the roof, and plenty of mantel space to display trophies and the other ephemera of a sporting life.
Four bathrooms offer ample space to shower or bathe after a game, with glass-fronted shower stalls and all sorts of custom fixtures. There are also two half-baths in the home, which has 5 bedrooms. The home sits on a 5 acre lot — the River Hills minimum — and has an attached 1,248 square foot garage. With 13 rooms, this is some house.
Architectural historians will place this structure in the era of the early McMansion. Although the real estate listing mentioned “Prairie School” influences in the architecture, the whole conveys the sense of a Las Vegas mansion colliding with a Palm Beach villa and settling to earth in the green landscape of the North Shore of Milwaukee.
See much better pictures of the home here. On one hand, this seems like a fairly typical big house: lots of space, lots of features, a big lot. On the other hand, the description of the home above is interesting. It is a home outside Milwaukee so the Prairie Style influences a la Frank Lloyd Wright make sense but the other comparisons are out of place. Las Vegas and Palm Beach just north of Milwaukee? This hints at one of the major complaints about McMansions: they tend to borrow and mix a variety of architectural styles that have very little connection to native architecture. A number of critics and architects argue that new buildings should blend in with existing styles. Architectural styles should be somewhat consistent. This, of course, does limit change but tends to preserve the existing character of places.
It’s too bad this article doesn’t go on to explore native Milwaukee architecture. Just how much does Mayo’s home differ from the typical Milwaukee suburban home?
Here is an example of how looking at the personal McMansion of a wealthy individual can be pulled into commentary regarding that person’s public actions:
Marotta will certainly not be on the sidelines as a new arena is sought and fought over. He will be faced with the task of assembling a suitable building parcel as well as financing its purchase and the construction of a new facility. The $200 million promised by the seller and the new owners will not be enough to foot the bill.
Mayor Barrett and others have called for a regional tax to help pay for the stadium. If Marotta has to help this pass, he will get a taste of the struggle ahead by reading the Resolution Opposing a Tax to Fund a New Sports Arena in Downtown Milwaukee that was passed by the Executive Committee of the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors in September 2013. Ozaukee County contributes to the 0.1 per cent Miller Park tax, and wants no part of another…
The first task is probably to find them in this cavernous dwelling, built in 2010. It has 17 rooms, of which 7 are bedrooms. There are 6 full baths and 3 half-baths in the home, along with “5 add’l fixtures”
Oh, we’ll find them later — off to the 5,605 square foot basement, of which 4,926 square feet is a finished rec room. That is a lot of recreating. Above is a first floor with 4,623 square feet of living space, surmounted by a more modestly sized 3,821 square foot second floor. Maybe it’s time to search around the 982 square foot attached garage with lake views and see if the kids are there, transfixed by the waves below…
By contrast, the visitor is encouraged to look at the orange structure to the south of the Marotta home. It could easily be overlooked, but upon closer inspection you can see a modern full-sized home dwarfed by the giant shadow cast by its neighboring McMansion.
This argument appears similar to the critique of McMansions offered by Thomas Frank several weeks ago: how can someone who has done well in life even think of asking for public money for a sports stadium? On top of this, studies suggest public tax dollars used for stadiums tend to benefit owners, not taxpayers. The McMansion discussed here (and it could be a mansion at over 10,000 square feet with the basement) is held up as an emblem of excess: it is very large, it is a teardown, it is an expensive house (in a nice location), and it is architecturally compromised. But, this analysis goes beyond speaking in generalities and links the negative qualities of the home to a particular person.