Evers wants to offer Brewers about $300 million to repair stadium

Madison, Wisconsin (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants the Milwaukee Brewers to get about $300 million from Wisconsin’s budget surplus to repair and renovate American Family Field. increase.

The governor’s office announced Tuesday that his administrative budget will include $290 million from surplus funds for stadium repairs. In exchange for the funding, the Brewers agreed to extend the stadium’s lease for 13 years through 2043, operations and the team said.

“As governor and lifelong Brewers fan, I am very excited about the historic opportunity to keep Major League Baseball here in Milwaukee for another 20 years and welcome a new generation of Brewers fans. You can grow by rooting for your home team as much as I did,” Evers said in a statement.

But the deal is far from a deal. Evers is due Wednesday to release his entire 2023-25 ​​budget. Republicans on the legislative branch’s powerful Finance Committee will spend the next four months revising it before submitting it to the Senate and Congress for approval. From there, the spending plan goes back to Evers, who can use a strong partial veto to rewrite it.

Congressional Speaker Robin Boss said on Tuesday that he was upset that Evers had not consulted Republicans or worked with Congress on plans to fund the stadium. It’s a typical antics that tells you exactly what to do and how to do it,” Voss said.

Boss said he hopes Democrats and Republicans work together to keep the Brewers in Wisconsin.

Stadium repairs will be paid for in one-off cash out of current state surplus funds. about $7 billionBut the proposal is sure to rekindle an old debate about whether privately owned sports teams deserve public subsidies to continue operating.

In a statement, Brewers president of business operations Rick Schlesinger said the stadium has impacted the state’s economy by $2.5 billion since opening in 2001 and brings in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state each year. says that

“The Milwaukee Brewers are committed to working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to extend the life of the American Family Field and enable Major League Baseball in Wisconsin for the next generation. “Milwaukee, the smallest market defined by MLB, needs the best ballparks for ticket sales and competition, making ballpark maintenance even more important.”

The stadium opened as Miller Park in 2001, replacing Milwaukee’s aging County Stadium. Construction cost about $392 million, mostly funded by Milwaukee County and his 0.1% sales tax levied in four counties around the stadium.

Construction got off to a rocky start. Taxes were a lightning rod for criticism. Republican Senator George Pettak was removed from office in 1996 after he voted against and in favor of a tax bill. Also in 1999, three construction workers were killed at the stadium when a crane collapsed and hit a viewing lift.

However, the park was eventually built. Known for its distinctive fantail retractable roof, the stadium has become a destination for Wisconsin baseball fans as the Brewers made a comeback in the late 2000s and made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years in 2008. have become. Since then, he has made two appearances in the National League Championship Series.

The tax was eventually enacted that year and generated about $605 million before it expires in 2020. Stadium name changed to American Family Field In 2021, after the Brewers signed a 15-year naming rights deal with the insurance company.

The Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District is essentially the Brewers’ landlord at the stadium. The Brewers’ lease requires the district to pay for the repairs, but the Evers office said the district was short of funds due to the end of the sales tax, according to the governor’s office and Brewers.

“We are opposed to the five-county tax return and are prepared to commit to extending the lease to keep the Brewers in American Family Field until at least 2042,” Brewers’ Schlesinger said.

The $290 million payment will go to the district, which will invest the money and collect interest as it spends the money to cover the repairs, according to Evers’ office.

Former Republican Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law in August 2015, donating $250 million in taxpayer dollars to help pay for the Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks arena . A Brown County resident approved his 0.5-cent sales tax in 2000 to cover the cost of renovating Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. This tax expired in 2015 after generating about $310 million.


Associated Press writer Harm Venhuizen contributed to this report.