MILWAUKEE — Big changes are outlined in the latest version of a bill that would provide more than half a billion taxpayer dollars to repair American Family Field and keep the Brewers in Milwaukee until 2050.
The revised version would reduce the financial burden on local taxpayers.
The Assembly bill that was amended Thursday would cut Milwaukee County’s contributions in half to match what the city of Milwaukee would pay: $2.5 million each for the next 27 years.
The city, county and state haven’t questioned whether repairs and upgrades are needed at American Family Field, rather how much each level of government should contribute to get the Brewers to extend their lease.
"The city and the county had a lot of concerns about stadium funding from the first version of the Assembly's bill,” said Milwaukee Co. Supervisor Peter Burgelis.
Originally skeptical of the county contributing another dime on the stadium that’s in his district, Supervisor Burgelis says amendments to the third version of the legislation make it a winner.
"It's a big win, it's a big step forward,” he said.
Burgelis likes that Milwaukee County would be on the hook for less than the Brewers if the bill becomes law.
The Assembly bill says the state would cover $411 million, the Brewers would be expected to provide $100 million and Milwaukee and Milwaukee County would each contribute $67.5 million a piece.
Burgelis appreciates that the legislation allows for a pathway toward development around the stadium. Additionally, it would reduce the amount of fees Milwaukee and Milwaukee County would be required to pay the state to administer local sales taxes that kick in next year. That means both the city and county would get to keep more sales tax revenue.
"My biggest concern is that we would have previously had to cut services to make that contribution to the stadium,” he said. “The version now eliminates the cuts to services that I was concerned about that my constituents were concerned about."
While Burgelis supports the changes that make the bill more favorable for Milwaukee and the county, Supervisor Sequanna Taylor remains opposed.
"Not that I'm not thinking about the Brewers, but I am absolutely thinking about those constituents who can't even think about going to a Brewers game because they don't have a place to sleep at night,” she said.
She thinks $2.5 million a year would go a long way toward funding affordable housing and bringing back MCTS bus routes that have been cut.
"We don't even have enough money for transit, so how can we have money to repair the stadium,” she said.
The Wisconsin Assembly is set to vote on this bill next Tuesday. It’s unclear when the Wisconsin Senate will take up the legislation on the Senate floor.
Regarding the latest development in the funding legislation. Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, provided the following statement:
“We appreciate the ongoing work by policymakers on both sides of the aisle to help the Stadium District fund its current and future obligations. We will continue to work with everyone involved on a bipartisan solution, and look forward to being able to negotiate a long-term lease extension to keep Brewers baseball in Wisconsin for the next generation.”