The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a loooooong article yesterday about the pending talks over the Bucks‘ lease on their new arena, which came down to: The Brewers have to pay part of the maintenance costs on their stadium, but that doesn’t stop them from letting fans drop peanut shells into the air vents which end up corroding the heating units, which eventually could leave the public with a broken stadium at the end of the team’s lease. And what if the Bucks do that too, huh?
It’s an interesting enough question — who knew that there was such a thing as peanut corrosion? — but ultimately way less important than another item yet to be negotiated: whether the public stadium authority will have any recourse if the Bucks try to break their lease and leave before the 30- or 40-year term is up. That’s important not just because taxpayers could be left holding the bill for an arena with no team, but because the Bucks owners could use any out clause as leverage — as has happened in numerous other cities — to extract more arena upgrades or even a whole new building 10-20 years down the road.
It sounds silly now, sure, when the new arena isn’t even built yet, but then, it probably sounded like a silly concern in St. Louis or Indianapolis or Houston when those cities built new sports venues. The only time to get the lease right is now, when it’s being negotiated — or the Bucks arena could way too easily be the half-billion-dollar gift that keeps on giving.