BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center is one of the NBA’s oldest arenas and quite possibly the one with the most cumbersome name — most people refer to it simply by its original name, Bradley Center.
The home of the Bucks as well as the Marquette University men’s basketball team has shown its age for a while, but its time is almost up; a new arena has begun rising next door and is set to open in 2018. Though the Bradley Center is playing out the string, there are still a few good reasons to visit the old building as the Bucks, with a young team, look to play their way into NBA contention.
- The Approach
BMO Harris Bradley Center is located in the Westown area of central Milwaukee, not far from where the Milwaukee River cuts through downtown and near a lot of the district’s attractions. The intersection of Interstates 43 and 794, two main arteries through the city, is just southwest of the arena. For more detailed driving directions, click here.
The arena has its own parking structure, just to the west along Sixth Street (Note: you can only enter the structure when traveling northbound on Sixth Street). You can purchase advance parking for Bucks games by clicking here. Other parking options exist in private lots and structures nearby — to see those, visit the Park Milwaukee website. The number of nearby spaces has been reduced somewhat by the beginning of construction for the new arena taking place just to the north.
There isn’t much in the way of public transportation options, other than the city of Milwaukee’s bus network. But if you’re a visitor to Milwaukee and your primary purpose is to catch some basketball, you’re likely staying in a downtown hotel, in which case all you need to do to get to the arena is take a brisk walk. Most name-brand hotels in the downtown area are just a few blocks south of the arena along Wisconsin Avenue and Michigan Street.
- The Build-Up
In a town like Milwaukee, home to good German grub, famous macrobreweries and microbreweries alike, and gatherings like the annual Summerfest music festival, it’s not difficult to find something to do before a basketball game. Many of downtown’s happening spots are within a reasonable walking distance, and the Historic Third Ward district (home of the Milwaukee Public Market, among other attractions) is nearby as well.
If you’d prefer to stay close to the arena, head one block east to Old World Third Street, one of the city’s most happening spots in terms of nightlife. You’ll find restaurants and bars for a stretch of several blocks, from Juneau Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue. For a guide to establishments on Old World Third Street, click here.
While that might be the liveliest street in downtown Milwaukee on a given night, there are plenty more options on the surrounding blocks if you’re willing to wander (which you may or may not want to, depending on the time of year and the weather).
- The Ambiance
While the arena has held up well over the years, it lacks many of the modern bells and whistles you tend to see in newer buildings (which, of course, is a reason why a new facility is under construction next door). It has a typical seating configuration, with an upper and lower bowl and a suite/club level in the middle, and the upper sections can feel steep and somewhat high up compared to other arenas.
Still, Bucks and Marquette games often bring boisterous atmospheres, especially when the home teams are doing well. The Bucks do have a rich franchise history, with the likes of Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabaar), Oscar Robertson and Sidney Moncrief having suited up for them. The Bucks also have an NBA title (in 1971) and two conference championships to their name, which are proudly represented in banners that hang from the rafters.
If you didn’t get a chance to sample the Milwaukee food scene before the game, you can get a good taste of it inside the arena. Usinger’s, a well-known local establishment known for its bratwursts and Bavarian pretzels, operates a stand on the 200 level, while concession stands found throughout the building offer such Wisconsin standards as bratwursts, fried cheese curds and fried fish. You’ll also be able to wash down your grub with Miller and Leinenkugel beers.
1001 North 4th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
All times local