The 22-year-old American Family Field, formerly known as Miller Park, is in need of extensive repairs, including the replacement of glass outfield doors, seats, concourses, luxury suites, and the video scoreboard. The team insists on the urgency of addressing issues with the retractable roof, fire suppression systems, parking lots, elevators, and escalators. The Brewers had previously hinted at the possibility of relocating if public funding for these repairs was not secured. While the team softened its stance, concerns about their potential departure linger.
The Assembly’s prior approval included a plan for the state to contribute $411.5 million, with the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County combining for $135 million. Payments would extend through 2050, with the Brewers contributing $100 million and extending their lease until the same year. However, Senate Republicans amended the package, reducing the state contribution to $386.5 million, adding surcharges on tickets to non-baseball events, and adjusting the team’s contribution to $110 million.
Debates and Concerns
The debate over allocating public funds to professional sports teams is inherently divisive. Critics argue that the Brewers’ principal owner, Mark Attanasio, worth an estimated $700 million, and the team’s valuation at around $1.6 billion, should mitigate the need for substantial government subsidies. The prospect of losing tax revenue if the Brewers were to leave Milwaukee has been a driving force behind the legislative efforts.
Senate Floor Debate
Democratic Senator Chris Larson expressed skepticism about the Brewers’ need for public funds, labeling their talk of leaving as a tactic used by other Major League Baseball teams to secure stadium financing. He advocated for redirecting public dollars to local ballparks, highlighting the subpar conditions of the field where his children play. Republican Senator Dan Feyen defended the plan, emphasizing the economic benefits the Brewers bring to the state, projecting over $600 million in income tax revenue over the next three decades.
Final Vote and Future Steps
The Senate’s final vote revealed a fractured decision, with three out of four Democrats from Milwaukee and 11 Republicans voting against the plan. The bill will now proceed to the Assembly for further deliberation. If passed, it will reach Governor Tony Evers, who has signaled his support for the proposal.
The Wisconsin Senate’s approval of the $386.5 million funding plan for the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium has ignited a heated debate over the allocation of public funds to wealthy sports franchises. As the Assembly prepares for its floor vote, the future of American Family Field and the Brewers’ presence in Milwaukee remains uncertain, with economic considerations and community interests at the forefront of the discussion.
- Fox News – Wisconsin Senate Approves Brewers Stadium Spending Package