A deal to fund renovations at American Family Field and ensure the Milwaukee Brewers stay in the city until 2050 cleared a state Assembly committee Thursday, setting up vote by the full Assembly early next week. It now has support from Democratic Governor Tony Evers, as well as from Milwaukee’s mayor and county executive.
State Representative Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, was worried that local taxpayers would be paying too much for the renovations, after the original proposal called for $5 million from the county and $2.5 million from the city in annual payments for the next 27 years. But the county would be required to pay $2.5 million under the latest version of the bill, or half of what was originally required. And the city would be allowed to pay for its share of the annual payments by redirecting a state administrative fee on a new local sales tax passed earlier this year.
The deal now includes $546 million in public dollars for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District. That district is charged with the oversight and monitoring of the operations and maintenance of American Family Field, including the trademark retractable roof and the stadium’s video board.
The Brewers would contribute around $100 million, while the majority of state funds would come from income taxes, including from Brewers players and employees, as well as from visiting players. Part of the plan includes winterizing the stadium, so it can be used for events in colder months.
The 1995 Brewers deal to construct Miller Park authorized government bonding, or borrowing, to pay for construction of the stadium. Borrowing for the project totaled more than $259 million, according to a 2019 memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Taxpayers in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Racine counties paid an extra 0.1 percent sales tax to retire that debt and the associated interest. Governor Evers signed a law in 2019 requiring the local sales tax to expire in 2020.
The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the latest Brewers deal Tuesday.