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Lawmakers forward nearly $700M plan to repair American Family Field

By: Ethan Duran//September 18, 2023//

Wisconsin Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos is flanked by State Rep. Robert Brooks, left, and State Sen. Dan Feyen as they unveil a stadium repair funding plan aimed at keeping the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee at a news conference on Monday at American Family Field in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Lawmakers forward nearly $700M plan to repair American Family Field

By: Ethan Duran//September 18, 2023//

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Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced a plan of around $700 million to repair American Family Field with state, local and Milwaukee Brewers funding. The spending plan includes contributions from the city and county of Milwaukee, and the provision will likely run into opposition from local and state elected officials.

The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to contribute $100 million during the team’s extended lease through 2050. Under the current lease, the baseball team is expected to stay until 2030.

The legislation would have to be passed by both houses and signed by Gov. Tony Evers. The bill includes more than $200 million in contributions from Milwaukee County and the city of Milwaukee. Previously, Evers proposed his own $290 million payment plan in his 2023-25 state budget, but the proposal didn’t involve money from the city or county.

“The money spent so far doesn’t allow the team to remain in Wisconsin. … I promise you the deal put forth is good for taxpayers, is good for the state and is good for the team,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) said at a news conference.

Lawmakers cautioned that the current plan may be amended or changed in the future, and added they wanted it to be a framework for future discussion.

Over 27 years, the state will contribute the most at $386.5 million to repair and improve American Family Field, according to a statement from lawmakers. The funding will come from the income tax generated by the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District.

Through the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the state would provide $60.8 million next fiscal year and $20 million each year through 2045-46, according to the proposal text.

Milwaukee County will contribute $135 million and the city will give $67.5 million until the lease is through, according to the bill text.

The income tax generated through the stadium district estimated a total of $666.5 million over 27 years, lawmakers cited from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Having the Brewers remain in Wisconsin will create a net of $242.9 million in income tax revenue until 2050, lawmakers added.

Lawmakers want the county and city to contribute, saying it was because the two have the most benefit. However, Democratic leaders in the state Assembly said Monday’s proposal would create a great financial burden on the county and city of Milwaukee.

“Throughout negotiations, Democrats have been optimistic about reaching a deal that keeps the Brewers in Wisconsin. However, the Republican proposal released today falls short of recognizing the regional benefit of American Family Field and places too great of a financial burden on the city and county of Milwaukee,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Greta Neubauer (D – Racine) and Assistant Democratic Leader Kaylan Haywood (D – Milwaukee) in a joint statement.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley cautioned that the county was still dealing with a fiscal deficit over the next several years but added he was open to discussion with the Legislature.

“The Milwaukee Brewers are an important asset for our community. While I have yet to see the proposed legislation announced today, I look forward to discussions with partners in the Wisconsin State Legislature and I am willing to work with them to find a common ground, bipartisan solution. However, it is important to recognize Milwaukee County is still facing a significant fiscal deficit over the next several years. Any new proposal by the State of Wisconsin must recognize that reality. I look forward to discussions with our State partners to identify a path forward that allows Milwaukee and the state to retain the Brewers, while providing Milwaukee County the resources to support our residents and communities in the years ahead,” Crowley said in a statement.

Another $25 million will be invested to “winterize” the stadium and allow it to be used year-round, said lawmakers at the news conference. Suggested uses for the winter were monster truck shows and concerts for additional tax revenue. If the stadium is converted for year-round use, it would maintain a 70-degree temperature indoors.

In May, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against using a county tax levy to support repairs for the stadium. Five members of the Milwaukee Common Council went on the record as saying they didn’t want city taxpayers to foot the stadium repair bill.

“The Brewers are a tremendous asset and have put together a winning team by making very wise and strategic decisions with personnel and with payroll. We see no reason why they cannot do the same when it comes to addressing the repairs at Am Fam Field,” said Milwaukee alderpeople in a joint statement.


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