Tuesday, June 25, 2019

M in MVP is for Milwaukee

(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
With Giannis officially being the NBA MVP last night, Milwaukee, the 30th largest city in the US, has the current reigning MVP in baseball and basketball. This has happened 23 times before, and the next smallest metro area to do so before was 19th (St. Louis).

But what does this mean, if anything? Does it help the city at all, especially for non-sportsballers? The short answer is: yes.

I chose this photo of Giannis, one name only needed at this point but Giannis
Antetokounmpo, from his MVP acceptance speech versus an action shot of him doing something crazy in a game, because it shows how and why sports are important. Giannis has heart, and sports can give it to a city.

Look I get it, the questions about the benefit of professional sports teams, the costs to build stadiums to keep them around, and other concerns. I have diverse groups of friends, many don't care much or at all or are even out off by sports, as well as those that enjoy or are passionate about them. When Miller Park (or whatever it will be called now) and the Fiserv Forum were being built, with public dollars, there was the usual discussion about the worth of these stadiums and arenas. There are studies trying to tie the economic value of teams and their places peripherally to bars and restaurants, merchandise, and so on - both for and against the buildings.

With a city the size of Milwaukee, I think it can show where we are and where we are headed. The fact that owners chose to buy these two teams - the Brewers and Bucks - and keep them here, and then invest in the community (the Bucks owners are hugely into Milwaukee - let's step it up Brewers) to make it and their team by way of the fanbase better to me shows that Milwaukee was worth it. Something about our city made these people want to keep this the home of the teams. Much like, maybe moreso, than a large company laying roots here, the choice means something.

Because of the foul taste by some - many - from the tax impact of Miller Park, when the Fiserv Forum was being proposed, many were against any public funds being used. But I think it would be hard to find someone now who maintained the hardline resistance. The impact to the surrounding area, with Deer District and other wider plans, has been measurable. Sure it helped that the Bucks went deep into the playoffs and excitement was generated, next year it will help that we will have the current MVP and high expectations, and things probably progressed quicker, but I think its also easy to see that it was a good plan and even with a bad team eventually the benefits would have kicked in just because of the amenities.

Regardless of where you stand on the economic impact, the meaning of a team can go beyond sheer dollars. A team can be a bridge between communities in the same city, two people of different backgrounds passing each other on the street wearing the same team gear are probably more likely to greet each other positively. How many times have we seen a city that had a tragedy rally behind its teams and find healing (New York after 911, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Houston after Hurricane Harvey, Boston and the Marathon, etc.)? Good teams, and by good I mean by record in the community not wins and losses, can have huge impacts in their community with programs and services.

But, back to Milwaukee, and Wisconsin specifically. I want to humblebrag a bit more.


Cities & their sports with 2 reigning MVPs at the same time
If you include Green Bay, Wisconsin (20th in size) has 4* current and former active roster MVP players and considering Rodgers is still MVP caliber player could have 3 current MVPs at the same time. * Asterisk depending how you feel about Ryan Braun.

Oh yeah, and by the way, the Bucks also won Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. Partly because they went so far with 'so little', making a great team in such a small market with less budget. That means they run the team well.

That means we have had owners and management good enough to find, and keep, great players. It means, no matter how small we are, that these players chose to stay here when they could have moved onto place like New York, LA, Boston, and more - the big Sports markets where just local - not even national - endorsements can make you even more filthy rich.

It means that, as I preach all the time, that Milwaukee & Wisconsin are pretty damn cool places to be.

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