Wednesday April 16th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI
The news story of the day in my home town of Milwaukee was the sale of the NBA franchise the Bucks. The team has been owned since 1985 by Senator Herb Kohl, who purchased it then at what turned out to be the bargain price of $18 million. 29 years later, he sells it for $550 million.
I know 2014 dollars aren’t the same as 1985 dollars, but that’s still a tidy little profit he turned for himself – even though he also pledged to donate $100 million toward a new arena that will be built to meet league requirements. Even if that comes off the top, he’ll still be able to buy lunch.
That kind of money just clogs the brain pipe when comparing it to my little beggar’s cup that’s not even full of nickels. I know that whole chunk isn’t his to spend free and clear, but it’s still on a whole different cosmic plane than I’ve ever been close to and unfortunately will likely never be at least in this lifetime. Some people are born with opportunities others will never come close to.
Herb Kohl came from a family that owned grocery stores, and there was one a few blocks from my grandparents’ house where I grew up. We shopped there every week, and I remember clearly like it was yesterday how he would sometimes be in the store and my grandparents saying hello.
I’m not claiming they were close friends or that he even knew who they were other than people that shopped at the store regularly, but it’s funny to have that obscure childhood memory and see how it grew. The grocery stores eventually closed, but they had Kohl’s Department Store as well. I’m not sure of the details, and it’s none of my business. The point is, they have done rather well.
Herb Kohl had a lot of opportunities most others don’t get. I’m not saying he didn’t work for it at least on some level, but he was in the right position to be one of the big players. Good for him, and by all accounts he has been generous with his resources. He is a known local philanthropist.
He bought the Bucks in 1985 when there was a threat of them leaving town. He made sure they didn’t, and even though they were quite mediocre at best in the standings most of those years the entire city owes him a debt of gratitude – even though most Milwaukeeans I know could not care any less. They bitch and moan about how bad the team is, and most wouldn’t pay to buy a ticket.
Many locals constantly bellyache about the Bucks being terrible, but would have whined even more if the team had moved. I guess it’s human nature to prattle on about what one doesn’t have instead of being grateful for what one does, and I admit I’ve been guilty of that myself regularly.
I listened to the press conference on the radio today, and it wasn’t ten minutes later when calls started coming in with fans complaining Herb Kohl should have donated more. They implied he should have built the new arena himself or something, even though he has been quite generous.
It sure is easy to spend other people’s money, isn’t it? As a native Milwaukeean, I’m thankful they didn’t move out of town in ’85. I was a ball boy in high school, and still have friends to this day that work there. Bad team or not, I’m still a fan. If nobody else says it, thank you Herb Kohl.
|In high school, I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a blast, and I still have friends there to this day.|
|Herb Kohl kept the bucks in town when they could have moved in 1985. If no other Milwaukeean appreciates it, I do. Thank you Senator Kohl.|