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Legislators looking for specific cost of Bucks arena

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The co-chairmen of the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee are pressing the Milwaukee Bucks owners to be specific about how much a new arena would cost.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. John Nygren met separately with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Madison this week and agreed that legislators and elected officials need to know exactly what the Bucks have in mind for the project to move forward.

“How big is the project?” said Barrett’s chief of staff, Patrick Curley. “We keep hearing it’s more than an arena. But how big is it?”

“I think everyone agrees we’re going to need a lot more information before this gets to the Joint Finance Committee,” he added.

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed selling $220 million in state bonds to help pay for the arena. Legislators have been pressing Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to say how much the city and county is willing to contribute.

Bucks’ owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry have already committed $150 million to the project. Former Sen. Herb Kohl — who sold the Bucks to Edens, Lasry and Jamie Dinan for $550 million — committed a further $100 million.

But Vos and Nygren said the Legislature can’t move forward until more information is forthcoming.

“My job is to get people to a place where they feel comfortable about this,” Nygren said. “This is not going to be an easy lift.”

Both Vos and Nygren agree the sentiment among legislators is that $220 million in state bonds is too high, according to the Journal Sentinel.

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