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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Brewers’ Uncertainty Fades With Approval Of $546M Stadium Bill

  • MLB club wins key ballpark vote with bipartisan support
  • Measure to upgrade American Family Field now moves to state senate
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers won a key stadium renovation vote in the Wisconsin state assembly, likely ending months of uncertainty surrounding the club’s future in MLB’s smallest media market.

With a 69-27 bipartisan vote, the assembly passed a $546 million ballpark financing plan to provide key renovations to the 22-year-old, publicly owned American Family Field and extend the team’s lease through 2050. 

The state will contribute $411 million, while the city and county of Milwaukee will combine for another $135 million, and the Mark Attanasio-owned Brewers will chip in $100 million not included in the public-sector vote.

The measure must still go through the Wisconsin senate, with potential changes to the funding mechanisms with that vote, likely set for next month. But the initial vote represents a key step forward in a months-long saga that included suggestions and then retractions of the team’s relocation.

“Momentum continues to grow for a solution to maintain American Family Field and to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee for the next generation,” said Rich Schlesinger, Brewers president of business operations.

Despite the sizable margin in the assembly vote, the Brewers situation has revived long-standing debates on public financing for pro sports facilities, as well as speculation on the true economic power of a pro team in a local market. 

Some opponents to the bill blasted the measure as another example of corporate welfare, but advocates successfully pointed to the prospect of a largely empty ballpark without the Brewers.

“It’s simple math,” said assembly speaker Robin Vos. “If the Brewers leave, dollars follow … If another employer was being lured elsewhere, we’d be saying we don’t want to lose that employer.”

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