By Ariele Vaccaro
On Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker approved a bill that would allocate $250 million in public funding to construct a new Bucks arena.
After months of debate, bipartisan support and opposition, and passage from both the state assembly and senate, Walker’s signature makes the deal official.
Senator Lena Taylor (D– Milwaukee) voted in favor of the deal and expressed her support for Walker’s decision, saying in a statement, “Today, we are one step closer to cranes in the sky, jobs on the ground and more money in the state coffers to fund things like public schools.”
She has been an open advocate of the deal, arguing that it will bring jobs and revenue to the Milwaukee area.
Not every state lawmaker representing Milwaukee is on board, however. Representative David Bowen (D– Milwaukee) has expressed concerns about taxpayers funding the privately owned arena.
He voted against the deal in late July. In a statement following the Assembly vote, he explained his decision: “This bill would have had my vote if there was an agreement that returned half of any naming rights proceeds to the taxpayers.
While I support the project, without this change I could not vote yes.”
Bucks President Peter Feigin wholeheartedly approved of the governor’s decision, releasing a statement shortly after Walker took a pen to the now official deal.
“Today’s signing is the culmination of an extraordinary effort from a broad coalition to not only keep the Bucks in Wisconsin, but revitalize Milwaukee… We will continue to work with the city and county to move this public-private partnership forward as swiftly as possible and make this world-class sports and entertainment district a reality.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis is grappling with a similar arena debate, as it considers the possibility of building a new football stadium using taxpayer funds.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has expressed intention to build an arena whether the Rams stay in St. Louis or not.
In addition, a St. Louis circuit court judge ruled recently that there is no requirement for the state to take a public vote on the construction of an arena.