Billionaire Bucks owner says if state offers him $150m, he’ll take it as his due

Breaking news about the Milwaukee Bucks arena plan from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Don Walker, who as we know, never breaks news unless it needs to be broken!

Bucks co-owner Wes Edens open to idea of ‘jock tax’ to help build arena

Wes Edens, a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, says the idea of a jock tax to help finance the construction of a new, multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee is a good starting point for coming up with a workable plan.

“I think that how we actually pay for it and what the form of the financing is and kind of all the technical nuances at some point will be very important,” Edens said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. “To me it’s less important today than just the notion that, let’s just agree what’s on the table with the benefit of the team being in town. Once we have done that, we’ve got a really useful place to start the dialogue.”

Okay, so let’s take a closer look at what we’ve learned here. First off, the co-owner of the Bucks would be “open” to the idea of having the state of Wisconsin take all the income taxes that his employees pay and sending them directly to him. This is truly remarkable, as most billionaires when offered $150 million decline, saying, “No, no, I have plenty of money already.”

Second, Edens didn’t even actually say much specific about the jock tax, beyond generally endorsing the argument behind the Bucks getting to collect all of their employees’ state income taxes while lobbing an oblique move threat (“If the Milwaukee Bucks are forced to leave town because they don’t have an arena, those taxes are leaving with them”). His statement above makes clear that he’s not going to endorse any particular method of giving him $150 million, just that he thinks he deserves it, because of all the revenue that his team generates for the state. And as for those studies by economists showing that income tax receipts don’t change one bit whether teams are playing in town or not, hey, how many jobs have they created?


7 comments on “Billionaire Bucks owner says if state offers him $150m, he’ll take it as his due

  1. Ben, plenty of these folks have non-academic affiliations: Robert Baade is at Heartland Institute, Geoffrey Propheter now works for the NYC Independent Budget Office, etc. I know you hate academia for some reason, but these people don’t become more or less economists just based on whether or not they’re teaching a class that semester.

  2. haha, neil if you’re going to run site with a message board, you’ve got to be able to spot a lebowski reference when you see one…

  3. “Preferred nomenclature” is a Lebowski ref, yes. The rest of it is a running argument that Ben is carrying over from another thread.

  4. And now Milwaukee finds a way to pass funding for the Bucks off to the entire state. An additional $150-million in general fund revenue being diverted from a state that projects a $300-million current year budget deficit and a $3-billion budget deficit in the next biennium: http://jakehasablog.blogspot.com/2014/11/wisconsin-deficit-already-spiraling.html. So another $150-million in lost general fund revenue, heck just close UW-Parkside, UW-Superior, and UW-Green Bay. After all what would you rather have, higher education for a few thousand students, or 3-point shots? Yeah, 3 point, 3-point, 3-point!

  5. Funding for the Bucks is already taken care of via the new 9 year NBA TV contract that takes effect with the 2016-2017 season and provides each of the 30 NBA teams with an additional $57 million per year over and above the TV revenue now being realized.

    No NBA team needs or deserves another dime of public funding for its arena.

  6. “No NBA team needs or deserves another dime of public funding for its arena.”

    While recent TV contracts make this truer than ever, “need” has never really been an issue.