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A chain link fence has gone up in downtown Milwaukee, and construction vehicles have begun crisscrossing the site of the new Bucks arena. Project proponents say it will ensure the team's success and be a source of pride for the community. But first, the neighborhood must live through disruptions the project will cause over the next two years.

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Milwaukee counts historic buildings, such as City Hall and the Pabst Theater, among its treasures. Both are more than 100 years old. Yet when it comes to certain venues less than one-third that age, the community is demolishing them, or giving them major facelifts.

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The downtown Milwaukee skyline is dotted with construction cranes. From Northwestern Mutual’s new complex at the eastern end of Wisconsin Avenue to the new Bucks arena getting ready to break ground, the city is buzzing with building activity. But how well do these projects enhance the city in which they’re built?

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The structural problems at the Mitchell Park Domes have been a reminder for many that Milwaukee County has responsibility for many cultural institutions in the area. Places such as the Milwaukee Public Museum, the zoo and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, where you might go to see the symphony, ballet or a touring Broadway show.

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While they're having a mixed season on the court, the Milwaukee Bucks made news this week with the release of a design for the team's new downtown arena, and the announcement that Mortenson has been chosen as the company that will manage the arena's construction.

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Even though we don’t have the Packers to watch any more this season, there’s been a lot to take in – and discuss – in recent days regarding sports in Wisconsin.

Veteran catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, made waves this week when he suggested that a trade could be the best thing for him and the Brewers. Some believe Lucroy is asking for a trade, while others felt the conceit could decrease his value as a player.

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The Green Bay Packers return home this weekend for a game against the Detroit Lions.  The game couldn’t come at a better time for the Packers who just lost two road games in a row, and in convincing fashion.

There’s more than a little angst in Packer Nation at the moment, and sports contributor Howie Magner thinks it may be a bit of an over-reaction from fans.

"Suddenly, people are wondering if they are going to make the playoffs, or if they need to fire everybody.  Or whether they should trade Aaron Rodgers, which is all kind of silly," he says.

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Pro football fans in Wisconsin might be going through withdrawal this weekend.  The Green Bay Packers have this week off and don’t return to action until next Sunday night against Denver.

That means they’re assured of spending another week as one of the NFL’s undefeated teams. Sports contributor Howie Magner says one key reason the Packers remain undefeated is because the defense is better than most expected.

"The offense has been playing well enough to win games and the defense has really been securing those games," he says.

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The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday approved spending $47 million to help the Bucks build a new downtown arena and entertainment center. 

The city and team had worked out differences on a few issues that had the potential to derail the project.

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The effort to build a new downtown arena for the Milwaukee Bucks took another step forward last week.  

County Executive Chris Abele announced the sale of Park East land near the current BMO Harris Bradley Center to the Bucks to make way for a practice facility.  A detail in the state budget bill that passed this year removed the county board from overseeing that land sale. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Common Council will vote later this month on the city’s contribution to the public financing of the arena. 

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Several members of the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday engaged in a heated debate over proposed amendments to an arena financing deal. The project is expected to cost around $500 million, with the city’s projected share at $47 million. City leaders say they want to make sure Milwaukee is getting the best deal for its money.

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The Milwaukee Bucks owners promise to transform the former freeway land into a basketball arena and entertainment district that will create more than 3,700 jobs, about 1,000 of them permanent. The owners and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced the deal Wednesday afternoon, on the corner of 4th and Juneau, with representatives of organized labor in attendance.

Planners say that over the next nine years, they will create $400 million in mixed-use development including retail space, apartments and a public plaza, in addition to a basketball arena.

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Monday the city of Milwaukee will begin the formal process of considering financing for a new Bucks arena. Earlier this summer, the state agreed to its share of the $500 million project. But most of the public funding - $250 million before interest, would come from local sources – Milwaukee County, the City Center District and the city. The impacts remain in dispute.

Gov. Walker signed the state share of the arena into law a few weeks back.

Michael McNamara

Several hope the new basketball arena and entertainment complex carry over the theme and ambience of Milwaukee's Old World Third Street and its German heritage.

The Bucks have invited several nearby stakeholders to offer suggestions Tuesday night at the Bradley Center, now that team owners hope to break ground by October on land north of downtown.

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The Milwaukee Bucks are moving forward with plans to build a new arena and entertainment center on the west end of downtown. In fact, investors recently purchased a second vacant lot for the project.

On Thursday evening, people who live close to the site are invited to the Hillside Family Resource Center to share their concerns and hopes.

Darrell Finch is optimistic. He thinks the new arena complex, with its shops and restaurants will create jobs for people who live nearby. Finch says the neighborhood needs a boost. Unemployment runs rampant.

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