Wisconsin Senate OKs Brewer ballpark funding plan

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(The Center Square) – It looks like taxpayers in Wisconsin will continue to pay for the Brewers’ baseball stadium.

The Wisconsin Senate on Thursday morning approved the plan to spend about $500 million on future renovations and maintenance at American Family Field.

To make it happen, the Republican sponsor of the plan had to work a few changes.

“This is a good deal for baseball fans, a good deal for taxpayers, a good deal for the state of Wisconsin,” Sen Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, said.

The new proposal will give Gov. Tony Evers and Milwaukee’s elected leaders extra spots on the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District board. The district owns the stadium, and the board makes decisions on how the stadium’s money will be spent.

Feyen also agreed to gradually raise a non-Brewer game ticket tax from $2 next year to $4 by 2042.

It took Democratic votes to get the ballpark package through the Senate. Eleven Republicans voted against the plan. That’s half the Republican caucus in the Senate. Eight Democrats voted for it.

Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, was among them.

“We’re investing long-term in a state asset and ensuring that state taxpayers are coming out ahead,” Agard said during the debate. “We’re working across the aisle, with partners inside and outside of the Capitol, with local governments, to ensure that a foundational, iconic part of Wisconsin remains in Milwaukee.”

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, who has criticized the package from the beginning, continued his criticism on Tuesday.

This vote is not a question of whether you are a fan of the Brewers or not, it’s a question of whether we are going to give a massive subsidy to a centimillionaire who lives in California who, frankly, has not invested as much in the team as, as a Brewers fan, I hope that he would,” Larson said.

Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said the agreement will keep Brewer baseball in Milwaukee til 2050.

“This vote by a bipartisan majority of the state Senate is a historic moment, not only allowing the Stadium District to meet its obligations to maintain the ballpark but paving the way for the Brewers to remain in Wisconsin for the next generation,” Schlesinger said after the vote.

The Wisconsin Assembly has to sign-off on the changes made in the Senate, then the ballpark package will head to Evers’ desk. He is expected to sign it.

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