Saturday, November 18, 2023

Brew Crew is staying! But what kind of team will we be left watching?

The Brewers are staying? YAAAAYYY! Since it's required to use a terrible sports pun on these stories, let's find out how the Legislature got those final outs to complete the game!
Ahead of [Tuesday's] floor vote, the bill included a $2 surcharge on general admission tickets for non-Brewers events and $8 for luxury suites. The amended bill those surcharges twice over the life of the 27-year deal.

The tax on general admission tickets would climb to $3 in 2033 and $4 in 2042. The surcharge on luxury suites would go to $9 in 2033 and $10 in 2042.

The revised ticket tax would bring in $20.7 million through 2050, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The original ticket surcharge was expected to generate $14.1 million.

That would drop the state’s contribution to $365.8 million of the nearly $700 million package. Under a previous version of the bill, the state’s share was to be $386.5 million.
Another big change to the bill to get some Dems behind it was that it finally allowed Milwaukee to get a voice on the board that decides how the taxpayer dollars will be spent.
The original nine appointments [under the original Breers bill] would include four by the majority party leaders in the state Legislature and four by the guv. The ninth member would come from a list of no less than three people the Brewers would submit to the guv.

The change would add four more appointments: one for the Senate majority leader, one for the Assembly speaker and two more from the guv. Milwaukee County and the city would each submit names to the guv to fill those final two spots. The change means the guv and the Legislature will each get six appointments to the board.
But even with those moves to add MKE representation and lower state costs by making out-of-town concert attendees pay more, only 1 out of the 6 Senators who represent Milwaukee County voted for the bill (LaTonya Johnson), and other suburban Senators had a mixed reaction.

Also odd is that the Milwaukee representation and other changes was enough to allow all 4 Dem Senators that represent Dane County to vote for the bill, including my Senator (Kelda Roys) switching from No in 2 separate committees to a yes on the final bill.

Personally, I feel this to be an improved deal for Wisconsin taxpayers than what was originally hatched by the GOP Legislature, but I am relatively indifferent in a "yea" or "nay" opinion. Yes, we likely won't get as much in income taxes and tourism revenue if we didn't have the Brewers vs if we did, so it's worth it to subsidize this attraction. But I would have liked to see the team open up ALL of its books, including its operations, so we can see if this is a business that needs the help....or doesn't.

It's been a busy week for the on-field product for the team, starting with the Brewers deciding to hire from within when it came to filling the hole left by Craig Counsell's departure.

I'm good with this, especially with bringing Rickie Weeks back into a Brewers uniform. But the bigger question of "Who is Murph going to have left to manage?" got murkier with this sad story from last night.

The decision came as a result of the shoulder surgery Woodruff underwent on Oct. 13, a procedure that could sideline the 30-year-old for the entirety of the 2024 season.

Woodruff would have been due a salary north of $12 million and become a free agent heading into 2025 – an untenable scenario for a Brewers team that might well be heading toward a rebuild.

Now, Woodruff becomes a free agent.

"That was a tough, tough phone call," said a dejected Matt Arnold, the Brewers' general manager, in the wake of the team's announcement. "It was emotional. He was awesome for us in so many ways. I still think there's a chance he could be part of our team in the future.

"But certainly, a tough day any time you have to deliver news like that to somebody that means so much to your franchise."
I get that you can't pay a guy $12 million+ if he isn't going to be able to do much for you next year. But if the team isn't offering Woody any kind of acceptable 2-year contract to at least try to keep him around for an extra season and improve the team's prospects for 2025, and especially if they trade other stars like Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames instead of trying to re-sign them past 2024 (when their contracts expire), then is it a fool's errand to have taxpayers try to keep this team "competitive"?

Or is Brewers ownership now happy to pocket the funding to fix up the stadium, and muddle along without making major investments in on-field talent? Yes, the Brewers bill has an audit for the expenses on the stadium itself, but is the Crew able to turn a profit and compete in the Big Leagues even with these hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies over the next 27 years? I'd love to see an operations audit to find out.

You can sense that if this team goes into a full rebuild for next year and spends the next couple of years out of serious contention, the Brewers' whole argument of "we need the tailgating space" will become even more absurd. They'll see attendance drop so much that they won't need half of those parking spots on most game nights, and you may as well develop that over the acres of empty concrete.

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