Brewer ballpark tweaks not enough to sway some Republican senators



(The Center Square) – The plan to spend taxpayer dollars on the Milwaukee Brewers’ ballpark may still be short of votes at the Wisconsin Capitol.

A number of Republican senators on Wednesday criticized the latest version of the plan.

“While the amendment makes some improvements to the bill, it does not meet the expectations of my constituents. The Brewers’ contribution falls short of their equity stake, and the burden on taxpayers is too high for me to support it,” Sen Julian Bradley, R-Franklin, said after a hearing on the proposal.

The improvement Bradley noted includes a new $2 non-Brewer game ticket tax that is expected to raise up to $500,000 a year and lower Wisconsin’s contributions to $377 million over the life of the deal. Originally, the state was expected to kick in $411 million.

The Brewers would also pay an extra $10 million in rent over the 27-years that a new lease would run.

Bradley continues to say that’s not enough.

“It’s clear that my constituents would welcome a deal but only if each side contributes their fair share,” he added.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, continues to be the biggest Republican critic of the proposed American Family Field funding plan.

“The Brewers’ stadium action today in a Senate committee provides the clearest proof yet that the uniparty system that has corrupted Washington D.C. is now decaying the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol,” Nass said in a statement. “Today’s Senate committee action does nothing to benefit taxpayers and is purely political theatrics to make it appear this bad deal has been improved.”

The State Assembly approved the Brewer ballpark package back in October, and Gov. Tony Evers has said he and leaders in Milwaukee are on board.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, however, has said he does not have the 17 votes needed to pass the ballpark package as is.

Evers has said he’s convinced a few Democratic senators to vote yes, but he’s not said just how many.

The state, through the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, owns American Family Field. The ballpark opened in 2001, and both the Brewers and Major League Baseball say it needs updates and refurbishments. The Brewers’ current lease runs through 2030. The new deal would keep the team in Milwaukee through 2050.

Even with the uncertainty over the ballpark funding plan’s future, LeMahieu has said he’d like to see the plan come up for a vote in the Senate next week.

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