Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker included $220 million in state-issued bonds to back new Milwaukee Bucks arena funding in the next budget, to be paid off by taxes on players and visiting teams. That request requires legislative approval, and the Republican Vos — whose party is firmly in control of both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature — says that request won’t fly unless Milwaukee or Milwaukee County contributes as well. From AP:
Some lawmakers, including Vos and other Republicans, have balked at the idea of having the state contribute to the arena without money from local governments. Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said Wednesday he wants to see the state commitment for the Bucks less than half of what Walker proposed — closer to $100 million.
Still other conservatives have objected to diverting income taxes away from the state to pay off the bonds.
“Funding for sports arenas should not be the responsibility of the state and the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin,” said David Fladebow, director of Americans for Prosperity’s Wisconsin chapter, when Walker released his plan.
If Milwaukee or Milwaukee County does contribute, the chances of state Bucks arena funding soars to 80 percent, according to Vos.
A final price tag for a new arena hasn’t been finalized, but it looks like $500 million is as good as any for a working number. The new Bucks owners have committed at least $150 million, while former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million. With the state money (which includes $20 million to pay off existing BMO Harris Bradley Center debt), you’re looking at $450 million committed to a new arena. That comes close to making it a done deal if Milwaukee or Milwaukee County participates in the Bucks arena funding.
There is much at stake: the Bucks could potentially leave Milwaukee and BMO Harris Bradley Center in 2017 if a new arena deal is not in place.
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