Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium repair bill approved


American family Field upgrade approved Image: Miller Park, Weltraum pirat, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers (US) will get a half billion dollar cash injection to repair their American Family Field ballpark over the next three decades.

AP News said Wisconsin State lawmakers have approved a plan to spend the cash, despite arguments that the team has more than enough money and doesn’t deserve such a sizable government subsidy.

The Brewers say 22-year-old American Family Field needs extensive repairs. The stadium’s glass outfield doors, seats and concourses need replacing, the stadium’s luxury suites and video scoreboard need upgrades and the stadium’s signature retractable roof, fire suppression systems, parking lots, elevators and escalators need work, according to the team.

The 41,900-capacity ballpark is a retractable roof stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (US). Located Southwest of the intersection of Interstate 94 and Brewers Boulevard, it opened in 2001 as a replacement for the Milwaukee County Stadium.

The Wisconsin Senate approved the legislation on a 19-14 vote. The Assembly followed suit, passing the proposal 72-26.

“It’s a great day for the franchise but I think an even greater day for the state,” Brewers President of Business Operations Rich Schlesinger said during a news conference following the Senate vote.

Governor Tony Evers said, “After months of hard work, I’m proud to say we’re going to be keeping the Brewers in Milwaukee, supporting thousands of family-supporting jobs — including union jobs — and ensuring a new generation of Wisconsinites can grow up cheering for the home team just like countless others before them.”

Evers said that he now plans to sign the funding package into law.

Brewers officials initially said the team might leave Milwaukee if they didn’t get public dollars for repairs.

Schlesinger softened the team’s stance last month, saying the Brewers want to remain in the city “for the next generation.” But the prospect of the team leaving looms.

AP News stated that debates over handing billions of public dollars to professional sports teams are always divisive.

The Brewers’ principal owner, Mark Attanasio, is worth an estimated $700 million, according to Yahoo Finance, and the team itself is valued at around $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. But Brewers officials initially said the team might leave Milwaukee if they didn’t get public dollars for repairs.

Fearful of losing tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue if the Brewers leave Milwaukee, lawmakers have been working on a plan to help cover the repairs since September. The legislation has gone through multiple iterations.

The Assembly last month approved a plan that calls for the state to contribute $411.5 million and the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to contribute a combined $135 million.

The state and the locals would make the payments in annual instalments through 2050. The Brewers would contribute $100 million and extend their lease at the stadium through 2050, guaranteeing Major League Baseball would remain in its smallest market for another 27 years.

But Senate Republicans balked at the state contribution and amended the package to scale it back to $386.5 million, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis. They also added a $2 surcharge on tickets to non-baseball events and an $8 surcharge on luxury suite tickets to non-baseball events. The surcharges would generate an estimated $14.1 million by 2050. The city and county’s contributions would remain unchanged but the team’s contribution would increase to $110 million.

Republicans amended the plan again to incrementally raise the $2 ticket surcharge to $4 and the luxury suite ticket surcharge from $8 to $10 by 2050. The revenue would be used to reduce the state contribution. According to Legislative Fiscal Bureau projections, the surcharges will generate about $20.7 million, reducing the state contribution to $365.8 million.

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