After getting a lot of injuries and quite a few losses in May, the Brewers had a positive start to this week, winning 2 out of 3 from the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros, and still stand in first place as Memorial Day approaches.
Oh, and now Milwaukee is being graced with a visit from the top guy in baseball as the week ends?
Wisconsin's Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers need to approve a plan to finance $448 million of long-term renovations at American Family Field — or risk the Milwaukee Brewers moving to another city.
That's the message expected to be delivered Thursday by Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred, who's visiting Milwaukee, a source is telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A Brewers representative declined to comment. But the source, who asked not to be named, said Manfred is planning a news conference at American Family Field because of concerns MLB officials have about funding for the ballpark.
OH COME ON! What’s with the hard sell, Rob?
First of all, the Brewers have 7 years left on their current lease with the SE Wisconsin Ballpark District,
While I know the super-rich can a;ways break an agreement for the right price, it would be a massive legal pain and cost more than the relatively small amount of money that the team pays the District to play at AmFam Field. Leaving early would be financially suicidal for whoever owns the team.
That veiled threat from MLB about the Brewers’ future also has a little less relevance after this week, as the Oakland A’s and public officials in Nevada seem to have a deal in place to move the team to Las Vegas and build a new stadium,
which takes one location off the table that the Brewers could potentially move to. In addition, the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium situation is more urgent than the one the Brewers have, and MLB plans to add another 2 teams in the coming years, so 2 more potential relocation sites would go away.
Plus, there is a lot in Milwaukee and the rest of the state that needs to be sorted out before we know how to pay for a Brewers stadium, and which communities would pay for it. Assembly Speaker Robbin’ Vos said last month that the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County should be part of any assistance that the Brewers stadium may receive.
Vos suggested the package lawmakers ultimately approve for American Family Field could resemble the structure of a 2015 bill that included funding from the state, city and county to help pay for the construction of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, now known as Fiserv Forum.
“I think it's fair to say that most people around the state would expect that (Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee) would have some kind of a participatory role,” Vos told reporters in the state Capitol. “Has that been defined? No.”
But we saw that the Milwaukee County Board is saying they don't want to pay anything toward future Brewers improvements, so there's one item that'll have to be ironed out.
More importantly, we have no idea if the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County would even have funds available to give toward ballpark improvements. The State Legislature and Governor Evers have yet to come up with a workable increase in shared revenue that would reduce the chances of either of those municipalities from having to make significant cutbacks in services and staff in the next 2-3 years.
So I would think that's higher priority to discuss and sort out before we can figure out what the locals can chip in for the Brew Crew.
And it’s interesting that Vos mentioned the Bucks arena as a possible model for a Brewers bill, because a key part of the Bucks arena bill was the development of the “Deer District”, with the City contributing land and TIF-backed infrastructure as a key part of their contribution. But in order to put a “Beer District” on the acres of land associated with AmFam Field and its parking lots, it would require any Brewers funding bill to get rid of a property tax exemption the team has gotten for more than 2 decades, as Bruce Murphy noted last year in Urban Milwaukee.
The Governor’s plan to help pay for repairs to AmFam Field would have continued this tax break, as Dan Shafer noted in the Recombobulation Area when Evers’ budget bill came out.
The governor’s budget proposal also includes a “property tax exemption for baseball park development.”
This would include not only the baseball stadium itself, but also any “retail facilities, hospitality facilities, commercial and residential facilities, health care facilities, and any other functionally related or auxiliary facilities or structures.”....
This would mean any future development the Brewers might do around the stadium would not be subject to property taxes.
The Brewers and the district own the majority of the many parking lots around American Family Field, state and city records show, and two lots located north of I-94 are owned by the state of Wisconsin. The collection of parking lots outside the stadium includes more total parking spaces than that of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, which ranks as one of the largest parking lots in the world.
Would a standalone Brewers bill allow for some of the lots and land around AmFam Field to be developed and add tax base to the City/County (along with a higher levy limit, maybe?), in exchange for the property tax exemption for that land being dropped? And how much would need to be sent to the Brewers to either buy that land and allow it to be sold/developed, or to reimburse the team for lost parking revenues?
Related, why can’t this Beer District and the nearby area (think Bluemound Road and the related ballpark bars) be part of a special taxing district whose funds go to the ballpark? This is what Minneapolis did to help pay for the new Vikings Stadium and other downtown attractions,
which includes an extra sales tax for “live entertainment” in the area, and includes additional taxes on liquor and restaurants in designated neighborhoods and sports facilities.
If we want to make it simple on business owners and the Brewers, we don’t need to have all of these subgroups of taxes, and could do a flat 1-5% sales tax on all non-exempt items sold in the special district along with a ticket tax for Brewers games (similar to the $2-a-ticket tax for FiServ Forum events), and that should go a long way toward the repairs the ballpark will need over the next 20 years.
But unlike how Rob Manfred is implying, we don’t need to figure this out in the next month as part of the debate over the state budget. There are a lot of moving variables on more important issues that need to be ironed out, including whether the City and County that the Brewers play in can even pave their roads and keep cops on the beat.
And given that the team is not going to be leaving any time in the next 5-7 years, we have plenty of time to work out a deal that makes sense for the state, the locals, the team, and the fans. Let’s get this right, as this can be a transformational project that all 4 sides can benefit, and not burden either the state or Milwaukeeans with a huge portion of the costs, without less of a payback for the investment.