Up to $150 million in loans from the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands could be used to help finance a new Milwaukee Bucks arena with interest paid to state libraries, under a plan under development in the state legislature.
The state of Wisconsin’s Public Lands commission was designed to finance public projects; it has a billion or so in assets and $100 million in cash. About $67 million was loaned for Lambeau Field upgrades. It’s a unique government body in that interest on the loans is used to benefit libraries across the state. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Mirroring a loan that once funded Lambeau Field improvements, a state public lands board would front around $150 million to help build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, under a plan being pushed by Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald….
The proposal by the Juneau Republican could yield two potential benefits for the state: getting a better interest rate on the stadium funds; and sending the interest on that money to the public school libraries of Wisconsin, rather than Wall Street investors….
There are three members of the board, and while none was opposed to the idea, they all said they needed to see a specific plan before signing off. This plan would replace a $250-million funding proposal from Gov. Scott Walker, which would see loan backed with player/performer taxes and
The emergence of this portion of a potential new Bucks arena funding plan came after a meeting of state and local politicos with Bucks officials. Financing, obviously, was a big topic of the discussions, but so were the Bucks’ plans for a new arena, which included a roadmap for construction. It’s clear the Bucks have settled on a site near BMO Harris Bradley Center; it’s also clear the Bucks owners have a roadmap for additional investment besides what they will spend on the arena:
At the same time, sources told the Journal Sentinel that the Bucks have begun sharing broad concepts of the arena design and potential ancillary development in meetings with business groups, companies and other downtown advocates.
Those concepts are still in the planning stages and could evolve. The sources said they involve a multiphase process that begins with an investment of at least $80 million in ancillary development and includes new housing, some office space and an entertainment area near the expected site of the arena.
The plan would span 10 to 12 years, sources said, with a second phase centered on the possible demolition of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The current owners of the Bucks have committed $150 million toward a new arena, while former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million. The total cost of the arena is expected to be between $400 million and $500 million. And while Walker has complained that local municipalities aren’t contributing cash, the city of Milwaukee is expected to set up a tax-increment financing district and the county is expected to contribute land.
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