Arena owner speaks out on bankruptcy filing

Posted on Aug 27, 2019 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Posted by of Insight Publications

After filing for bankruptcy a week ago, the owner and operator of the Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh is issuing its first comments on the topic, hinting it was close to securing full financing to pay off its debts when three creditors filed lawsuits.

Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc., the owner of the arena and the Wisconsin GLO, a women’s professional basketball team, filed for bankruptcy Aug. 19. All business operations will continue under court protection, said Jerome Kerkman, the lead Chapter 11 lawyer at Kerkman & Dunn, which is representing the company.

The arena, which opened in December 2017, is also home to the Wisconsin Herd, the G League team for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Herd says it is committed to the Oshkosh arena.

The bankruptcy filing was prompted by a hearing in Winnebago County to appoint a receiver, which was requested by Bayland Buildings Inc., Kerkman said. The Hobart builder said Fox Valley Pro Basketball owed it $13 million in unpaid construction costs. An arena investor and a law firm that worked for Fox Valley Pro Basketball also filed lawsuits in recent weeks, seeking money.

Greg Pierce, president of Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc., was close to “securing full financing to satisfy the claims of all creditors” before Bayland filed its lawsuit, Kerkman said.

“We will be able to use the groundwork laid by Mr. Pierce to form a plan of reorganization,” he said. “We believe that (the arena) should be able to exit Chapter 11 within a relatively short time and expect the principal amounts due to all creditors to be paid in full. This will be a superior result than what creditors can expect in a receivership.”

Windward Wealth Strategies Inc., a business also owned by Pierce, has agreed to lend up to $200,000 for Fox Valley Pro Basketball to meet its cash flow needs during the Chapter 11 proceedings.

“We are putting our own money on the line to make this work,” Pierce said in a statement.

Jason Fields, the arena’s general manager, said it’s business as usual at the arena as it goes through the bankruptcy process.

“By continuing to offer a variety of live engagement shows to community members and their families, we want to remain an exciting entertainment facility unlike any other in the area,” he said. “We look forward to a successful year ahead with the support of our team and local community.”