American Family Field upkeep deal


Milwaukee Brewers one step closer to extend lease at American Family Field Image: Miller Park, Weltraum pirat, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The State of Wisconsin, together with the County and City of Milwaukee, would contribute $546 million toward maintenance of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Milwaukee Brewers home ballpark – the American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (US) – under a Bill that passed the Wisconsin State Assembly recently.

‘WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO’ stated that the Brewers would contribute $100 million in a bipartisan deal that would guarantee the team continues playing at the American Family Field in Milwaukee until 2050.

The Milwaukee Brewers are an American professional baseball team based in Milwaukee. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League Central division.

The 41,900-capacity American Family Field is a retractable roof stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (US). Located Southwest of the intersection of Interstate 94 and Brewers Boulevard, it is the home ballpark of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers. It opened in 2001 as a replacement for the Milwaukee County Stadium.

‘WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO’ further stated that the debate offered a rare glimpse at a Bill that would have failed in the Assembly without votes from the Democrats, which gave the minority party more bargaining power in than it’s accustomed to in the Republican-dominated Wisconsin Legislature.

The proposal has not yet been scheduled in the Senate, where it could be amended later this year. If it passes both the chambers, the Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has signaled he will sign it.

The funding package comes after months of negotiation, including amendments in recent weeks to lower the amount of the local contribution from the Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee.

Those changes earned the plan some key Democratic votes, but the party was split, with some of Milwaukee’s State lawmakers expressing opposition to being on the hook for stadium improvements at a time that the City is in dire financial straits, and after a months-long fight for increased State funding.

Said Representative Supreme Moore Omokunde, D-Milwaukee, “In a year where Milwaukee finally may be able to get above the surface fiscally, with the passage of shared revenue, we’re being forced to take on the stadium funding burden alone.”

The Bill ultimately passed 69-27, with 47 Republicans and 22 Democrats voting in favor. It also faced bipartisan opposition as 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted against.

Under the proposal, the Milwaukee County and the City would pay $2.5 million per year through 2030. The City would be permitted to pay its share by redirecting an administrative fee collected on its new local sales tax, approved earlier this year.

All told, the County and City would contribute $135 million, and the State would contribute $411 million for the renovation projects including the winterization of the stadium. Most of the State’s contribution will come from income taxes from the Brewers players, the Brewers employees and the visiting players.

The Milwaukee Mayor, Cavalier Johnson, has expressed support for the legislation. It is also supported by more than a dozen trade unions and hospitality and alcohol industry groups.

Lawmakers debated about the relative economic benefit of ensuring the continued presence of the Brewers compared to the size of the State funding.

Stated Robin Vos, Assembly Speaker, R-Rochester, “If the Brewers leave, dollars follow. The dollars that follow means we have less money to invest in all the critical things people think are important.”

Some Democrats, like Representative Lori Palmeri, D-Oshkosh, described the legislation as “corporate welfare” that uses taxpayer dollars to benefit a team valued at $1.6 billion.

She added, “I think it’s time for us to stand up to corporations, sports and others that issue threats to leave our State if we do not give them what they want.”

Months of Negotiation on a Stadium Funding Deal

In his budget proposal earlier this year, Evers proposed $290 million for the American Family Field, using money from the State surplus.

The Republicans on the State Budget Committee rejected that plan. They introduced a version of the Bill passed in September.

The money will go to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, a body that oversees the American Family Field, including its retractable roof and the videoboard.

An earlier version of the Bill required a greater contribution of funding from Milwaukee. Lowering that contribution earned the support of several Milwaukee Democrats, including Representative Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee.

Stated Sinicki, “We are the landlords of the stadium. It’s our responsibility to take care of it. And … in the words of one of our former Presidents, ‘Read my lips, there are no new taxes going into this.’”

The Mayor of Milwaukee, Cavalier Johnson, said recently that the proposal has his “full support”.

Evers told reporters recently that he’s “ready to support” the Bill as written.

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