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Milwaukee Brewers ticket tax? Senate considers stadium funding bill

Posted at 3:30 PM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-19 16:30:55-04

A "ticket tax" to see your Milwaukee Brewers?

Democratic Senator Tim Carpenter says that idea is being seriously considered in bipartisan talks.

Senate Republicans were asked about amendment talks, including Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, but no one was available to talk on camera on Wednesday.

A pair of bills passed by the Assembly Tuesday would keep the team in Milwaukee through the year 2050.

We dug into how a "ticket tax" on Brewers games could change the deal.

The total fan attendance number for home games this season at American Family Field was about 2.5 million. But now, Carpenter, who represents the district where the Brewers call home, believes in adding a fee to every ticket to see the Brewers home games.

Fello asked, "Do you think it might be an extra $2 or $3?"

"No specific amount," Carpenter answered. "But I think that would be in the range of things."

He thinks the idea is worth looking into. If an extra $2 or $3 fee was put on every Brewers ticket sold this season, it could have brought in an extra $5 million to $7.5 million.

As the bill stands, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are expected to contribute a total of $135 million, coming from sales tax revenue. The state would contribute $411 million. The Brewers say they will put up $100 million. It all adds up to $646 million to fund stadium repairs, and keep the Brewers in Milwaukee through the year 2050.

Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said, "I would like to talk about the totality of that package, and not talking about taxing our fans."

Instead, he said he is open to the idea of adding a ticket surcharge to non-Brewers events.

Assembly Republicans said Tuesday, they passed the bills without a ticket tax attached because the Brewers agreed to pitch in $100 million.

"I think the odds of a ticket tax for actual Brewers games are slim to none, but you never know," Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) said during the Tuesday news conference in Madison.

When asked if this would change the equation of the $100 million on the table, Schlesinger answered, "Well, you know what I think it changes a lot. I don't want to speculate, because I'd like to focus on the things that do make sense. I frankly don't think a ticket tax makes sense. It doesn't make sense for our fans. It's a tax our fans. It penalizes our loyal fans who come to the ballpark looking for affordable tickets, and again my whole business model is affordable tickets. Anything that is going to challenge that business model, obviously I'm protective and concerned about. "

Senator Carpenter argues there's already a precedent. The Milwaukee Bucks have a $2 per ticket surcharge.

For now, we will have to wait and see what the Senate changes might look like, showing this deal is far from over.

The Brewers bill will receive a public hearing with the Senate on Oct. 25.