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Milwaukee money for new NBA arena goes before public

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s top development official and its chief financial officer will publicly present details Monday of the final piece of a proposed $500 million funding puzzle to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks and help keep the NBA franchise in the city.

Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux will lay out how the city plans to generate its $47 million share of public funding, while Comptroller Martin Matson will give his fiscal analysis during an afternoon hearing with city leaders.

The meeting marks the first opportunity for the public to formally comment on the plan. It also begins the final stage of a process that could see Milwaukee keep or lose a team that has called the city home for nearly 50 years.

The arena has been the center of a debate over whether public funds should be used to subsidize professional sports teams. Arena supporters say that if the team moves to another city, it would lower Milwaukee’s national profile and potentially reduce the state’s income tax revenue. Opponents argue that wealthy team owners shouldn’t receive public money that would be better spent on education or public safety.

The Wisconsin Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker have approved a funding plan calling for taxpayers to contribute $250 million to the arena over 20 years, although that commitment will grow to $400 million with interest.

Milwaukee would kick in about one-fifth of the public share, using money from special tax zones.

Current and former team owners will spend another $250 million.

Monday’s hearing will be before a special committee of leaders on the Common Council, the city’s main governing board. Common Council President Michael Murphy said Monday that he wants to hear from the public before making his decision. Public funding is “not my preference,” he said.

Murphy also said he wants to hear details about the development that would surround the arena.

The Common Council will vote on the funding plan Sept. 22.

A rejection would leave the city without a way to pay for its share, which would jeopardize the project.

Bucks officials hope to break ground in October.

It’s been estimated that the arena would generate about 15,000 construction jobs.

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