Final Bucks arena plan would still put public on hook for nearly 100% of costs

Wisconsin state assembly leaders released a revised Milwaukee Bucks arena funding plan yesterday, and … it looks pretty much exactly the same as the arena funding plan released by Gov. Scott Walker four weeks ago. Same $55 million in bonds to be repaid out of state funds, same $55 million to be repaid out of currently uncollected county property taxes (assuming those can actually be collected, which is a big question), same $93 million diverted from current Wisconsin Center District funding streams, same $20 million (in two $10 million increments) to pay off the state’s remaining Bradley Center debt. Add in maybe $234 million or so in city funds and tax breaks, and you have a nice total public cost of about $457 million, or more than 90% of the total arena price tag — which could easily be 100% if you add in arena naming rights to the public building, which the Bucks are counting as part of the private side of the ledger.

So, nothing new at all here. Did the legislative leadership at least give a hint whether the arena would be included in the never-ending budget process, or get exiled to its own bill?

Still not clear is whether the arena deal will be included in the budget, or considered as stand alone legislation. Vos said it was important for the public, as well as members of both legislative chambers, to consider the draft, details of which are included in a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
“I look forward to feedback from the members of the Senate and the public as they review the full details of this proposal, and will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure that any deal that keeps the Bucks in Milwaukee is a good deal for Wisconsin,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

You heard the man. Members of the public, provide your feedback.

7 comments on “Final Bucks arena plan would still put public on hook for nearly 100% of costs

  1. Impressive that 90% of $707 million is $457 million. With those kind of math skills you could easily be an economics professor.

  2. One reason out-state GOP legislators may be balking is that this current budget removes ALL FUNDING FOR STATE PARKS (it was about $4.5M a year). State parks actually do draw tourists, especially from out of state, to less-populous areas. In some areas, tourism is a key industry.

    The Bucks can barely draw from the Milwaukee Metro area. Putting this much funding into something with relatively little direct impact on real tourism is out of whack. That’s not saying an arena has no value in Metro Milwaukee. It’s just not going to drive econ impact, especially in a state where many/most residents cannot afford to attend games (or are not that interested…13,000 is average recent attendance…only 4,000 season ticket-holders…that’s why new arena will have 1,600 fewer seats). The biggest boon to “tourism” is when Bulls fans come for a Bucks games and some of those folks stay over rather than driving home 90 miles.

  3. I’m from California. The next time I go to Wisconsin, seeing a Bucks game will be about 200th on my list of must-sees.

  4. $500M for the arena and $207 for the other things (present day value of property taxes, nearby development, etc.) that you are including in with the arena cost.

  5. You can’t add the property taxes and other subsidies to the arena cost. That would be like us going to dinner together, splitting a $50 check, then you giving me $20 and saying “Okay, now I’ve paid $45 out of the $70 cost.”