D-League team for NBA’s Bucks heads to Oshkosh

Ti Windisch

UW Oshkosh played a role in the Milwaukee Bucks decision to locate their D-League affiliate team in Oshkosh starting in the 2017-18 D-League season, the head of the Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation said Tuesday.

“UW Oshkosh was very supportive of this,” CEO Jason White said. “We were able to tout that we have 40,000 plus college students within a 20-30 mile radius of Oshkosh, so that was big in terms of generating fan interest and support.”

White said the experiences of students and faculty who come from across the globe to either attend or work at UWO is comparable to those of D-League players and coaches who also are not from the area.

“We had to sell to the Bucks the idea that, their players, their coaches, same thing, they’re not from here,” White said. “So how are they going to acclimate to our community. So there was a lot of discussion with the leadership of UW Oshkosh about that, about what their experiences have been to integrate folks into the community and become part of the community.”

Greg Pierce, head of the Fox Valley Professional Basketball group, put together the city’s pitch for the team, and said he is open to letting UWO use the new arena at times.

“We’re going to have conversations with UWO about possible use at times of our facility for them,” Pierce said. “I know how difficult getting time at Kolf is. If we can help in any way, that’s something we’ll talk with Darryl Sims about.”

White said he was not sure if anything had been determined, but noted there was a possibility of the Titans playing in the new arena.

“[There will] be 300 dates in the calendar for other users,” White said. “Whether it is UW Oshkosh for some games, or Fox Valley Tech, or AAU basketball, or boat shows, concerts, whatever, the rest of that story is yet to be written. We know that there will be interest.”

UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said the University has to be careful about interactions with a professional franchise due to NCAA guidelines, although it’s possible the D-League team could make use of UWO facilities.

“The role that we can play as an institution in this is that as needed, we can certainly serve as a site for practices and that kind of thing,” Leavitt said.
“Particularly in this first year as they’re building this new facility there may be scheduling issues where we could be helpful in providing a venue for them to practice.”

White said UWO had supported the D-League efforts, and there were earlier discussions about games being played in Kolf.

“At one point, it was discussed whether or not the team could maybe play there on a temporary basis, but that was deemed not feasible,” White said.

White said there could be opportunities for UWO students to intern with the D-League team, once it becomes operational.

“The kinesiology program at UW Oshkosh, I think there’s some possibilities there with respect to partnering with the Bucks and Greg’s group in getting some of the students some experiences they otherwise might not have had absent the team being here,” White said.

Leavitt said the D-League team should provide terrific opportunities for students, and both parties are looking forward to the team coming to Oshkosh.

“We’re very excited about that,” Leavitt said. “And they’re excited that they are coming to a community with a world-class comprehensive institution.”