By Tiffany Crouse
Gov. Scott Walker announced that if Wisconsin does not move ahead with plans for a new Bucks , Wisconsin will lose $419 million in the next 20 years.
Elected state officials held a press conference in Madison on June 4 discussing the state and city’s financial obligation for the arena project.
Walker and his team, which included Mayor Tom Barrett, Rep. Robin Vos, and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, came forth unanimously supporting the decision to move forward with the Bucks arena.
Walker emphasized an income tax that would give Wisconsin a return on its investment in the arena.
“For every dollar the state invests, it gets three dollars in return,” Walker said. This is based on a budget of $500 million dollars to build the new arena. According to Walker, the current Bucks owners and previous owner Herb Kohl have collectively put forward $250 million for the project. The other half of this $500 million is to come from state and local governments.
“Under this plan, state and local governments will also fund $250 million, or half of the total project costs, toward building the new arena without tax increases or state bonding.
Any cost overruns would be paid by other sources, but not the state” Walker said.
Who those other sources are and the likelihood of the project going over budget where not commented on at the conference.
With this budget plan the state would invest no more than $80 million throughout the 20-year project. “Over a 20-year period, this plan protects $299 million in income tax revenue, including the base and projected growth,” Walker said.
At the conference, Walker said that 11 percent of the $500 million would come from the state.
50 percent would come from the public sector, another 50 percent would come from the private sector and the last 39 percent would come from collaboration at the local level.
What exactly this collaboration would be is still in the works.
Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele, noted that Park East, where the stadium is intended to be built, has been empty for years and that any legislator would jump at the chance to develop this property so that the property value increases, which will in turn increase the property tax in that area, after the arena has been built.
“The potential upside is larger than we have had for downtown, in terms of economic development, ever,” said Abele.
This idea of a new arena was brought to light after the NBA Board of governors said that they would buy back the Bucks if a new arena was not completed by 2017, Walker said.
Although Walker’s team agrees that moving forward is the best thing for Wisconsin, not all legislators are completely sold on the idea.
The Milwaukee Common Council held a meeting with Mayor Barrett on June 5 to discuss the Bucks plan.
Council President Michael Murphy raised some of the Council’s concerns about the project.
The Council is still discussing the budget and how it will affect the city.
Rep. Robin Vos encourages residents to contact their local legislators and tell them thoughts on the new arena, because many officials are wondering what the community thinks of this major project.