Those who forget history are condemned to become sports editors, Milwaukee edition

And as long as I’m making fun of terrible alleged journalism this morning, I can’t pass up OnMilwaukee.com sports editor Jim Owczarski’s column telling Milwaukee residents to quit “whining” about the “minuscule” sales tax hike that paid for the Brewers‘ new stadium, because “if you’re buying a $30,000 car, an extra $200 or whatever it comes out to isn’t a big deal in the scheme of it.” It goes on like that for a while, unremarkably enough for columns in this vein, but then Owczarski goes for what he undoubtedly sees as the knockout blow by citing the $200 million that the Bucks‘ owners are pledging toward a new $400-500 million Milwaukee arena:

No city, or state, gets a $200 million down payment on a new, multipurpose complex.

Here, courtesy of Judith Grant Long’s invaluable book Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities, is a list of sports teams whose owners have contributed more than $200 million (in 2010 dollars) toward their new buildings: The New York Jets, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Dallas Mavericks and Stars, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Ottawa SenatorsPortland Trailblazers, St. Louis Blues, and Toronto Blue Jays. And that’s after accounting for hidden costs like property tax breaks, which the Bucks owners may yet ask for, and not including projects that were completed since Long’s book came out, like the Brooklyn Nets‘ arena or the Golden State Warriors’ proposed all-privately-funded $1.2 billion venue.

Now, lots of those other cities put in a bunch of public money to those projects as well — but then, Milwaukee is expected to as well, which is the whole ostensible point of Owczarski’s piece. I stopped giving out annual “Dumbest Reasons to Build a Stadium” awards a long while back, but this year I may have to make an exception…


10 comments on “Those who forget history are condemned to become sports editors, Milwaukee edition

  1. If he is to ever venture outside of MKE, then he’s got a columnist’s job waiting for him at the Orlando Sentinel if and when Mike Bianchi retires/gets fired.

  2. I really want someone in Milwaukee to use Cuban’s words against the new owners of the Bucks. If the $550M purchase price is a bargain or steal or whatever terms Cuban used, then clearly, this is an undervalued asset and doesn’t need any public money to help them build new digs.

    It would be glorious to see this go down to where A) the NBA does not get its way B) the taxpayers keep some money C) billionaires have to spend their own and D) it just possibly shuts Cuban up (if only for a little while).

  3. You might be interested to learn that the Journal-Sentinel actually gave some column space to people opposed to the new stadium idea and highlighted how little we know about the plan. Of course, the editor who wrote the headline didn’t think that deserved mention, but it’s a first step.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/new-bucks-owners-arent-the-only-ones-thinking-big-b99255345z1-256607251.html

  4. I might be mistaken but didn’t Cincinnati put in some clause for the Bengals stadium that requires them to be at a certain competitive level or they get evicted or have to contribute more money? If Milwaukee does get tricked into building this they should include something like this or an minumum salary cap to require the Bucks to be more than just a D-League team in a NBA stadium. Frankly, given they are one of the easiest to forget teams in the league and more of a minor league market anyway.

  5. Sara: It’s the other way around: The Cincinnati *stadium* has to be at a certain competitive level, or the county has to put in more money.

    I like your idea, though. “Playoff appearances, or your tax money back!” Though of course if every city did this it’d be impossible for all the teams to live up to the promise…

  6. @Sara

    The NBA actually has a minimum cap. It requires it’s teams to have a player payroll that is 90% of the salary cap. Now, as to whether or not Milwaukee should have it’s own in house floor minimum, I would just say that the new owners should completely revamp the front office and avoid sticking their noses in the personnel decisions. Kohl did that way too often and look where it got the Bucks.

  7. What’s one more promise that teams don’t live up to? I like Sara’s idea, too. Ask any Mariners fan whether they’d like to see a “competitive clause” in the team’s lease at Safeco Field requiring the M’s to at least try putting a decent team on the field (and don’t be fooled by the Cano signing…it was a desperate attempt to be seen as “relevant” in a city with a Super Bowl champion sucking up all the oxygen and had nothing to do with baseball).

  8. Let’s say the bucks left town, i think it would be quite likely the NHL would be fine with the current arena and put a team in the city.

  9. The problem with management regulations is it is pretty easy to follow rules that in theory should produce good results and still fail terribly. For one look at the minimum salary cap, even the worst team is at max a 10% differential between most of the best constructed teams in the league, three of the largest payrolls all over the salary cap are the Knicks, Nets & Lakers all constructed to perform poorly on the court now and for years to come. Chicago almost should be included in that list but has more ways it can improve in less than five years unlike the others

  10. We sports owners respect the tradition of strong, independent local journalism that digs out the facts and reports the truth to the citizenry. Right up to the moment we buy them all off and get them on board with our latest public stadium cash grab.

    Gawd it’s fun being a billionaire these days…no rules except the golden rule-we got the gold baby, and we make the rules!

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