It's really no secret to anyone that knows me, or has listened to me on the radio, that I love sports, Milwaukee, nostalgia of my youth and past. There is something about it that holds me, the wistfulness of a memory, of a feeling, of a day gone by that holds a special memory and feeling in my heart. When the Bradley Center came down to make way for our beautiful Fiserv Forum, nearly all of my memories as a sports obsessed Milwaukee kid growing up in the 90's went with it. This is the arena I grew up in. The arena I went to my first Marquette game in 1994, my first Bucks game in 1993. Where I first saw the Admirals and Milwaukee Wave and even the Milwaukee Mustangs take the field. Where I went as a young freshman Marquette undergrad to watch Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener and Steve Novak bring Marquette back to glory. A young kid with my dad looking up at the ceiling in amazement, at banners, dreaming and hoping. As a teenage starting college, so much new and scary, unknown, yet a game in this arena always something I could count on. Growing up as a sports obsessed kid in Milwaukee, this place held a lot of my memories. When it was winter time, there was really no place else I would rather be, because that meant I was seeing a game of some sort. County stadium in the summer, the Bradley Center in the winter. It was heaven, it was paradise, it was nirvana every time I walked in.
So unlike many, I never looked at it like a boring old nondescript building with bad sight lines (how many times did I have to hear that?). I wasn't tired of it. I wasn't happy to throw it in the trash. I knew of course the business and economic realities of the situation made it necessary to build a new arena, to keep the team, and I am more than thrilled that it happened. That it ensured the safety of the Bucks in Milwaukee, the absolute beauty of the new arena, and hopefully the memories to be made. But I just didn't feel like the Bradley Center was an old piece of garbage that I was happy to be rid of. I loved every memory I made there. But what many didn't realize is that it wasn't just the sports memories that made it so special for me. One of the most important things in my life happened in that arena, and it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game.
I never really thought it would happen this way. You have a lot of dreams in your life, you imagine when you're young how things might go, in an idyllic sense. I always hoped to meet the woman of my dreams. You might think I always hoped that my first date with her would be at the Bradley Center, but I never really dreamed it up that way. I guess because it would seem too perfect, too implausible, and life is rarely like a movie. But little did I know that one night going to a Bucks game with this wonderful woman would be my most important Bradley Center memory, that this woman would one day be my wife, that of all time times I spent in that arena, this would be my most important. I think of all the happy moments and memories that arena gave me, the Bradley Center wanted to give me one last memory to make sure that it's legacy would live forever. For at least 2 people would always hold the building in the most special place in their hearts. For that i'll never forget it.
Many have constantly lamented that we never got a championship there. That there was never a legendary moment that would really hallmark the history of the building.
But when I got down on one knee in an empty lot where Lara and I had our first date, I sure felt like a winner.