Wave owner needs more investors
The precarious futures of the Bradley Center and the Milwaukee Bucks have been the focus of many public conversations in recent weeks, and deservedly so.
However, another Milwaukee professional sports team also needs some public TLC: The Milwaukee Wave.
Wave owner Jim Lindenberg recently told BizTimes that he needs the Milwaukee business community to step up to help keep professional soccer in the city.
To begin with, Lindenberg is looking for more corporate sponsors and investors in the team.
"We have accomplished a lot in three short years. In establishing our new goals and building for the future, the Milwaukee Wave is looking for investors to strengthen the organization. The candidates should have a philanthropist's spirit, love good family entertainment, be committed to keeping the Milwaukee Wave in Milwaukee and want to help support and grow this great tradition," Lindenberg said.
Lindenberg, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, purchased the Wave in 2009 as a civic gesture shortly after selling his company, World Class Wire & Cable Inc., in 2008.
"Corporate sponsorship is No. 1. We have made significant improvements with corporate sponsorship experiencing a 75 percent growth since I purchased the team. We must continue to secure additional sponsors and match what other teams in the league have been able to secure in order to meet our goals," Lindenberg said.
"The Milwaukee Wave offers a great year-round product and family entertainment for a reasonable price. Our sponsorships range from $2,000 to $100,000, offering a company fantastic exposure for their sponsorship dollars, and we are a year-round product with our summer camps."
The Wave's current major sponsors include: Associated Bank, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., Catholic Financial Life, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Enterprise, Equitable Bank, Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin, Frontier Airlines, Kapco, Kohl's Cares, M&I a part of BMO Financial Group, Reinhart Boerner & Van Deuren, Rocky Rococo's, Steinhafels, Time Warner Cable, VJS Construction, WE Energies and Z2 Marketing.
Those sponsorships have helped the Wave of Hope, the charitable arm of the organization, stay very active in the community. The goal of the Wave of Hope is help foster an environment for children in Wisconsin where education, wellness and positive life skills can thrive.
"We are very proud that we raised $250,000 per year for children in its first two years," Lindenberg said.
Bottom line: When the Wave wins financially, the community wins financially.
The Wave's glass is half full. Financially, the Milwaukee Wave is trending positively since Lindenberg bought the team in season tickets (up 298 percent), attendance per game (up 28 percent) and revenue per game (up 34 percent), corporate sponsorship (up 75 percent) and merchandise sales (up 39 percent).
Still, Lindenberg needs some help from the local business community to keep the nation's longest-running soccer franchise in the United States (29 years) in town. In fact, he would not be opposed to handing off the ownership burden to someone else, should the right person step forward.
"I would not be against that and would not stop anyone with the adequate resources to purchase the team. In fact, I would encourage that. It is a fantastic networking opportunity and a great experience," he said.
"My goal was to save this historical winning franchise and improve the organization. We have accomplished that. They must have the adequate resources and must continue The Milwaukee Wave's winning tradition on the field and in the community."
For more information, call (414) 224-9283 or visit milwaukeewave.com.
No surprise here. It is unfortunate, but until the Milwaukee Wave restructures their business model I don't see the organization ever breaking even. I do not know of many "businesses" that look to sponsorship or philanthropy to survive. And if it were a good business model, you'd have venture capitalists lining up to provide funding. Some pretty impressive businessmen (Dan Doucette, Ron Creten, Charlie Krause and now apparently Jim Lindenberg) have been unable to get the Wave to break even over the course of the past 10+ years so maybe it is time to let the natural course of the business life cycle happen.
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