Lawmakers sell Brewers ballpark funding as only costing Milwaukee

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(The Center Square) – The plan to use more than $600 million in taxpayer money to pay for work in American Family field and keep the Brewers in Milwaukee until 2050 is not done, but the pitch for the funding package is set.

State Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, told lawmakers Thursday at the first public hearing in the stadium funding package that only Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will be paying for the stadium.

“How much are you paying in taxes? You’re not. We are taking the income taxes that we would definitely lose and appropriating those,” Brooks said. “The only two communities that are paying…are the city in the county but they’re the only two that derive any direct financial benefit.”

The plan would have the state spend more than $400 million on work at American Family Field. The city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County would kick in another $200 million, taken from newly approved sales taxes. And the Brewers would pay $100.

Rep. Mirisabel Cabrera, D-Milwaukee, questioned why Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are the only governments to pay for the stadium, but how Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are going to pay for the ballpark.

“We’re using the 2% sales tax to justify why only we have to pay for sharing the cost of keeping the Brewers here, and I just find that it’s a bit of a double speak because the 2% sales taxes are already earmarked,” Cabrera said. “[If the Brewers} leave, we don’t get the sales tax and we can’t meet the burdens. But if they stay, on the flip side, we get a new burden that makes it harder for us to pay all our other bills and provide all our other services if we don’t have additional funding.”

Brooks said there is still work to be done on the stadium funding deal. He said there will be an update next week.

“I will tell you and everyone across the state, you are not putting in any money in here that wouldn’t otherwise be gone if the Brewers leave,” Brooks said, “And I think, without getting any details, the deal will get significantly better for the city of the county and all taxpayers across the state with the amendment that’s going to be hopefully forthcoming in the next week.”

No one is saying when lawmakers may vote on the funding package. The Brewers have not set a timeline, though the team continues to say they want to get a deal on American Family field as quickly as possible.

The Brewers current lease runs until 2030. The new stadium funding package would guarantee that the Brewers would stay in Milwaukee until at least 2050.

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