Case Study: Community Outreach


In 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise was acquired by a new ownership group intent on revitalizing the ailing organization, including the construction of a new multi-purpose arena for the team and community. While the new and previous ownership groups pledged $250 million in private financing for the arena, an additional infusion of public funds would be needed to make an arena proposal viable. These funds would have to be approved by the state and local governments, requiring a large grassroots campaign.


We created Play It Forward, a broad-based coalition of hundreds of local businesses, community organizations, and key endorsers who supported public funding of a new Milwaukee Bucks arena. It also included dozens of economic groups such as the Commercial Association of Realtors and the Hispanic and African American Chambers of Commerce to lend their support and mobilize their members. In addition, we built a strong social media campaign designed to reach a wide audience of potential supporters. Due to these efforts, we secured hours of free earned media, and thousands of Wisconsinites contacted their lawmakers to encourage them to approve the arena proposal.

Knowing the importance of telling a compelling narrative, we toured the state of Wisconsin with Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin and met with legislators, business leaders and community influencers from Wausau to Waukesha to prove why investing in the Bucks would benefit the entire state. Besides helping the Bucks make a case for the new arena, these face-to-face meetings were crucial to introducing the team’s non-native owners and management team to the state’s most influential leaders. These relationships paved the way for support of the Milwaukee Bucks at the state, county and city levels.


In less than 18 months, we secured bi-partisan approval for more than $200 million in public financing for a new, $500 million arena in downtown Milwaukee. The approval allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to stay in Wisconsin. Keeping the Bucks in Wisconsin will protect the state from a projected loss of $420 million in lost growth opportunities and tax revenue over the next 20 years. In addition, the arena construction is expected to alleviate local unemployment by adding 14,000 temporary construction jobs and 2,100 permanent, non-construction jobs.