Our Best Memories of the Bradley Center

This weekend's demolition of the Bradley Center in Milwaukee brought back our best moments and memories from our time attending or working at the Bradley Center. Here's some of the best recollections of time spent at the BC from our staff.

Drew Olson, @DrewOlsonMKE, Co-Host of Drew & K.B. in the Morning:

I was lucky enough – and old enough - to have covered the first event in the Bradley Center, an exhibition game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 1, 1988. I was the Admirals beat reporter for The Milwaukee Journal at the time. Since the building was gift from Lloyd and Jane Pettit, who owned the Admirals, and Lloyd was the longtime Blackawks radio announcer and they were toying with the idea of bringing an NHL franchise to town, the matchup made sense on many levels. Wayne Gretzky was supposed to be the marquee attraction, but he was traded to Los Angeles that summer.

I remember that some of the areas underneath the seating bowl, near the locker rooms, were still unfinished. But, the building was an instant hit with fans and it created a buzz downtown that led to a surge of business at bars on Water Street and, eventually, Old World Third St. (I certainly did my part to help with sales).

In the early days of the building, which was conveniently located across the street from the newspaper, I covered the Admirals, Wave, Bucks and Marquette hoops. There were some weeks when I was there 4-5 nights, which cut down on my grocery bill. (The press room meals at the BC were always fantastic!)

Over the years, I covered hundreds of games there. I was on hand when the Badgers won the NCAA hockey championship, I saw NCAA tournament action, I watched Brandon Jennings score 55 points as a rookie. And, I saw numerous concerts, including one raucous show when I helped a 65-year-old gentleman crowd surf above the pit. (His name was Bruce Springsteen).

Buy me a couple of pops and I’ll tell you more details of great behind-the-scenes moments and my memorable interview with Lloyd Pettit in his suite. (He offered me a gin and tonic, which I turned down, and proceeded to tell me how the political wrangling over the site for the arena almost caused him and Jane to pull the plug on the gift.

But, I’ll always go back to that first night. Details are foggy now, but I remember thinking that it was a special night. I had no idea I’d be around for the building’s demise, but the group of buildings constructed immediately after the Bradley Center had amenities that the BC couldn’t match.

K.B., @OnAirKB, Co-Host of Drew & K.B. in the Morning:

November 9, 1999. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Reunion Tour. It marked the start of about a 25+ concert run over the last 20 years for Drew and I.

 

Armen Saryan, @ArmenSaryan, Executive Producer

Of all the great games and moments (especially Marquette moments) I have seen in the BC, even accounting for recency effect, Marquette coming back from 15 down to upset #1 Villanova was the most incredible, improbable, out of body moments I have ever experienced. It was a wave of pandemonium, that culminated in what was easily the best court storm ever in that building. There were great moments, and crowds, and wins to be sure, but that one really felt like the building was lifted to the heavens. I think the fact that so unlikely (because of the opponent in general, the fact that MU was a fairly ordinary outfit that year, and that they had a big deficit with not much time left) added to the effect.

I also want to say the Louisville game that year was probably the most intense crowd I remember for 1 game. Louisville was #2 and MU was #11, and Reece Gaines hit the three to win it. Travis Diener hit a three to tie the game right before it. So I would say that was the loudest I ever heard the arena, when he hit the shot, and the most deflated a crowd ever was when Gaines hit it right after.

Another that is more personal... What made the entire 2002-2003 MU season special, not only for the great players, team, and result, is that it was my freshman year as a student. So the stars were aligned, for such a great excitement around the team and one of the most formative years for myself personally in my life. Because interest was so high that year and because student seats were general admission, for the biggest games students would wait a long time in line outside the BC to get ready to run in and get seats. For the biggest games that year, Louisville and Cincinnati, my friends from the dorm and I would go 6-8 hours before the doors opened to get close to the front of the line. Those times we spent together waiting in the cold became the formative years that created some of the best friendships in my life. We spent so much time together, and sharing those experiences with friends you were just getting to know really was a unique garden to grow those connections. So that is why i'll always think of the Bradley Center in a very visceral way.

 

Brian Posick, @brian_posick, Sports Director/Updates & Voice of Wisconsin Hockey:

My favorite memory of the Bradley Center was April 8, 2006, in front of a sellout crowd, Wisconsin beat Boston College 2-1 to win the NCAA Hockey Championship. Robbie Earl was named most outstanding player of the Frozen 4. His second period goal tied the game at 1. Then Joe Pavelski set up Tom Gilbert for the game winner in the 3rd period. BC's final shot hit the left post as the horn sounded and Wisconsin celebrated it's 6th national title, and first since 1990.

Having grown up in Waukesha, I attended dozens of Bucks and Admirals games at the Bradley Center, as well as the old Badger Hockey Showdown but didn't broadcast a game there until the national semifinals on April 6, 2006, when Wisconsin beat Maine 5-2.

I remember the buzz around Milwaukee...the fans lined up outside the Bradley Center as the team arrived for the title game. Wisconsin enjoyed a tremendous home ice advantage for the Frozen 4, and the NCAA regionals two weeks earlier in Green Bay, where the Badgers beat Bemidji State 4-0 and then outlasted Cornell 1-0 thanks to Jack Skille's goal in triple overtime. That season, and specifically the championship game, have been the highlights of my broadcasting career.

 

Dan Needles @dneedles12, Co-Host of The Crossover: 

My favorite Bradley Center moment did not include any local teams. It was the 1992 NCAA Tournament's first two rounds, especially the second-round doubleheader, which featured the buzzer beater by James Forest of Georgia Tech that sent Al McGuire into a tizzy... followed closely by Wisconsin’s win over Oregon at the BC in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

 

Bob Brainerd @BobBrainerd, Co-Host of The Double Team

I guess I’ll never forget, among many Bradley Center moments, when a live bat interrupted a live basketball game between Marquette and Providence in 2013. On that day, I was pinch hitting behind the mic, filling in as the public address announcer for the Golden Eagles' Big East contest. Out of nowhere, the bat without a GPS swooped throughout the court, stopping the game, and forcing the officials to send the players to their huddles for an extended timeout. Most of these great big college athletes were terrified and ducking for false cover, but the brave ones trying to use towels to swat at in in midair. It didn’t work.

The problem was, how do you solve the problem? No one knew, so guesswork went into action. While the in-house DJ played clever tunes like Batman and Crazy Train (Ozzy and bat reference, get it?) someone came up with the idea to lower the volume instead. I was asked by Marquette administration to urge the crowd to remain silent, which was difficult as they delighted in the delay. My next announcement was another idea, alerting the crowd that the lights would be dimmed in hope that the mammal would head to the rafters or out of the arena. Eventually it did, but not until everyone in the building had a last memory.

And from the Can’t Make This Up Department…Providence had a player on it’s roster named Kadeem Batts! Buzz Williams, Marquette Head Coach, always focused and dialed in, was not amused, and worried that the delay would slow the mojo of his Marquette team. 

 

Mitch "Thunder" Nelles @mitchnelles, The Crossover:

There is no way I can have just one, but if I have to… Game 7, Bucks-Hornets, 2001. Big Dog, running 3 at the buzzer to end the third quarter. At the time, I was a member of the Bucks interactive entertainment team, the Hoop Troop. So, I was under the basket where the Hornets hit their 3. As Big Dog released his shot, I was already running onto the court to get set up for a T-shirt Toss in between the 3rd and 4th quarter. As the crowd exploded, I ran to center court and just watched the entire crowd going crazy. It. Was. Amazing.

 

Jimmie Kaska @jimmiekaska, Assistant to the Regional Manager:

I'm a northern Wisconsin native, so I only attended the Bradley Center a handful of times. One of those times, I was visiting my brother, when he lived in Oak Creek. We decided one night to head up to a Bucks playoff game, and then this happened. Long live Bango!

 

Intern Josh @JoshuaAlbrecht, Drew & K.B. in the Morning:

A memory I’ll never forget is going to an Admirals game with my dad when I was seven. An intoxicated man cut a hole in his large cup and used it as a megaphone and started swearing at the players. Also an elderly woman 20 feet away from us got hit by a puck. She ended up being okay, at least that’s what I tell myself. RIP Bradley Center.

 
It's All Thunder!

It's All Thunder!

Mitch Nelles, aka Thunder, is a long-time resident of the Milwaukee area with some serious Wisconsin roots. Read more

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