Milwaukee Bucks: Peter Feigin discusses Bucks’ return, business impact of COVID-19

In a Q&A with The Undefeated, Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin talked about resuming the season, the business lost due to COVID-19, and much more.

In the face of unprecedented circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-20 NBA season has resumed down in Orlando.

For the Milwaukee Bucks, this wasn’t how one of their best campaigns in franchise history was supposed to go on, but the fact that it’s still being played more than four-and-a-half months away from the court is, in itself, a miracle.

That sentiment has been shared from on down to the players and coaches down in Orlando to the top of the organization with someone such as Bucks president Peter Feigin.

Feigin recently talked with The Undefeated’s Martenzie Johnson for a wide-ranging interview and first shared his thoughts on the league’s return to action down in Orlando:

“If we talked four months ago and I told you, ‘Here’s the concept: we’re going to play in a bubble in Orlando and contain while a majority of the country is surging in COVID,’ you’d look at me and say I was crazy. And it’s actually happening in a very controlled, contained good way, which is miraculous, and I think part of that is just you have the owners of the teams and Adam Silver, who are just innovators, leaders on top of how this is done.”

Conversely, though, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Bucks during one of their best seasons, nearing on kicking of their playoff run and potentially even hosting the NBA Finals games for the first time since 1974. Feigin bluntly spelled out the business impact and losses that the organization is enduring due to the pandemic:

“Oh, devastated. I mean, devastating. We were literally on the eve of having not only one of the best seasons on the court with launching into the playoffs with the best record in the NBA, but financially we were about to have one of our best financial years with a combination of Bucks basketball events and concerts and year two of a new arena. We were peaking at such a great level, and literally overnight you went from one of the better success stories and compounding growth to extreme losses…

Yeah, you’ve got to think about, beyond the 10 other regular-season [games], probably 20 concerts. It’s not just the arena, it’s in and around the arena. So we built this Deer District to almost be the feeder from in and around events. So restaurants and bars and the plaza itself. That all went to zero right away. The 30-acre Deer District has really been dormant for five months.”

Only now has business started to slowly pick up around Fiserv Forum for Bucks games while maintaining social distancing and other proper protocols. But for a team like the Bucks, playing in their second season in their state-of-the-art arena, the devastation they’re feeling as Feigin described it may be one of the more unique situations across the league, given the overwhelming success they have experienced since opening the arena.

When later asked about whether the organization has formulated plans to have fans in the arena at various capacities for the 2020-21 NBA season, should that happen, Feigin had this to say:

“I think we’re ready. I wouldn’t say we’re ready today, but I think we’re where we’ve got models for operational and financial scenarios that go from no fans to 20% fans to 100% fans. We’re thinking proactively on what does rapid testing look like as you get into November, December. Is there a means for tracking? Will we be in a place where we can actually test, where we can actually resume? And those are all interesting things, where we’re testing and playing within Orlando, as rapid response testing comes pretty quickly.”

NBPA president Michele Roberts recently talked with ESPN’s Tim Bontemps about how the bubble setup may be the only feasible way to play next season without any interruptions. Of course, that’s very far down the line and the league must keep up their current success with the bubble in Orlando, but Feigin’s comments are certainly interesting all the same.

Feigin’s interview with Johnson also veered on to other topics that went beyond the business of Bucks basketball as he discussed the various ways the Bucks are looking to impact the community, whether it’s through fighting against racism, social injustice, etc.

And on that front, Feigin gave an update on the organization’s efforts to use their facilities as a polling place for this year’s election as was reported on last month:

“So I think we’re down the road for early voting. I don’t know about physical voting because we’re navigating the Board of Elections in the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. And by the way, what we want to do is anything that’s positive and additive to the system — how we can make it easier, how we can promote registration, how we can promote voting. I can tell you — from the players to management to ownership — everybody is [for] the cause of voting, both for registration, both for physical voting. That’s one of our causes that we really want to support. So I think what you’ll see on our platform is certainly a big push towards registration…

I think we’ll be involved in early voting as a physical place, and then the actual voting in November, I’m not sure if we’ll be a site, but we have opened up ourselves to everybody in the state and city to say if it’s additive, and we can help orchestrate it, you have our 30 acres, too, and as well as the arena to help execute.”

Next: The journey to prove the Bucks are the NBA’s best team

Be sure to catch all of Feigin’s Q&A with Johnson as they touch on all sorts of topics on and off the court, but the business of Bucks basketball being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic will immeasurably affect the organization in the years to come.

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