MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The public will get a chance to sound off Thursday on a Republican-authored plan to hand the Milwaukee Brewers more than $614 million in public funding to cover repairs and renovations at American Family Field in hopes of keeping the team in Wisconsin for three more decades.
The state Assembly’s state affairs committee was scheduled to begin a public hearing on the proposal late Thursday morning at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis. The hearing comes just hours after the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 5-2 at American Family Field on Wednesday night, eliminating Milwaukee from the National League playoffs.
Reports commissioned by the Brewers and another by a state consultant found the stadium’s glass outfield doors, seats and concourses should be replaced. Its luxury suites and technology such as its sound system and video scoreboard need upgrades, and its signature retractable roof needs repairs. Fire suppression systems, parking lots, elevators and escalators need work, too.
Under the proposal, the state would give the team $60.8 million next fiscal year and up to $20 million each year after that into 2046. The city of Milwaukee would contribute a total of $202 million and Milwaukee County would kick in $135 million by 2050.
The team would contribute about $100 million and extend its lease at American Family Field through 2050, keeping Major League Baseball in its smallest market for another 27 years.
According to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo attached to the legislation, baseball operations at the stadium currently generate about $19.8 million annually in state and local taxes. That figure is expected to grow to $50.7 million annually by 2050, according to the memo.
The package has garnered support from the tourism industry, including the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a lobbying powerhouse.
But local Milwaukee officials as well as Democratic lawmakers have complained the deal asks for too much from the city and the county. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political network, has registered against the proposal, according to state ethics records.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed giving the team almost $300 million in the state budget in exchange for the team extending its lease by 13 years, to 2043. Evers would have pulled the money from the state’s $7 billion surplus, but Republican lawmakers killed the plan after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wanted a longer lease extension.