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'Not a dime': Milwaukee aldermen do not think city should pay for AmFam Field upgrades

Posted at 8:38 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-20 11:45:53-04

MILWAUKEE — "Not a dime." That's what some Milwaukee aldermen think the city should be paying for American Family Field upgrades.

In a joint statement released Wednesday, several city aldermen expressed their belief that the City of Milwaukee should not provide $290 million in financial support for required stadium maintenance.

American Family Field
American Family Field, previously known as Miller Park.

In February, Gov. Tony Evers proposed a plan that would make a one-time investment of $290 million in the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District from the state's $7 billion surplus, ensuring the team stays through 2043. Gov. Evers says without the investment, the Brewers and Major League Baseball (MLB) could leave at the end of the 2030 season when the current lease with American Family Field expires.

The baseball park district is charged with overseeing, operating, and maintaining American Family Field. The proposed investment would maintain, repair, and improve facilities at American Family Field so the baseball district can meet its lease obligations to the Brewers. Gov. Evers said it would save taxpayers more than $200 million over the team's lease term and will generate more than $400 million in revenue over the next 20 years.

Wisconsin Budget American Family Field
FILE - Fans are pictured outside American Family Field before a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs, April 12, 2021, in Milwaukee. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' office announced Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, that he wants to hand the Milwaukee Brewers nearly $300 million from Wisconsin's budget surplus to enact repairs and renovations on American Family Field. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

In March, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted against a county tax levy to fund the maintenance.

Ald. Jonathan Brostoff, Ald. Lamont Westmoreland, Ald. Larresa Taylor, Ald. Mark Borkowski and Ald. Russell Stamper II wrote in part, "With Governor Evers’ months-old proposal to use part of the state’s surplus to fund $290 million in needed repairs to American Family Field all but dead, we want to change the expectations’ trajectory for the funding in a fundamental way. We believe firmly that NOT A DIME of the funding should be footed by City of Milwaukee taxpayers."

The ballpark, which opened in 2001 as Miller Park, has generated $2.5 billion in total economic output for Wisconsin since opening in 2001, according to a study released by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce in 2020.

Miller Park Spotify playlist for the 2017 Brewers season

MILWAUKEE, WI - May 17: A view of the entrance to Miller Park before the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, 2003 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Reds 8-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The stadium took nearly $400 million to build, which was paid in part by a 0.1% sales tax. That sales tax started in 1996 and lasted through 2020.

The rest of the aldermen's statement said Wednesday, "The Brewers and the stadium district need to identify a funding model that uses a mix of private funding – including some from team ownership – as well as borrowing and other sources to take care of the repairs. When a vehicle breaks down and needs repairs to keep running, people dip into savings or use credit to pay the bill. We believe this is exactly what needs to happen with American Family Field. 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."

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