MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Republican lawmakers reveal a new plan to keep the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin at American Family Field.
At a news conference this morning, Rick Schlesinger with the Brewers said proposals from Governor Evers and Republicans show there is consensus across party lines for a solution to extend the life of the field.
Republican lawmakers including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos revealed a new plan to keep the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin at American Family Field.
Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, said in a statement that the proposals from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans on Monday “show that there is true consensus across party lines for a solution to extend the life of American Family Field.”
Schlesinger said the team opposes the return of the five-county tax, and “we are prepared to commit to a generational lease extension for the Brewers to remain at American Family Field.”
Background on Brewers ballpark funding issues
The Brewers have called American Family Field home since 2001 and have a lease that expires in 2030. State Democrats and Republicans have been debating on stadium renovation funding plans for months, as the Associated Press previously reported.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, proposed a plan in which the state would spend $290 million in repairs and the Brewers would extend their lease by 13 years, through 2043. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that plan wouldn’t work and indicated he wanted to come up with a deal that included a longer commitment from the Brewers to remain in Milwaukee.
The Brewers’ lease calls for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to cover repairs. Evers and the team have said the district does not have enough money to pay for what is needed. Evers’ proposal suggested funding the repairs through a one-time cash payment from a projected $7 billion state budget surplus, according to the AP.
What’s new in this new proposal?
According to lawmakers during a press conference inside American Family Field on Monday, this proposal keeps the Brewers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin through 2050.
The plan does not include new taxes from the state. Instead, expenses associated with the Brewers will be paid using income taxes from players playing at American Family Field: the players on the Brewers and the players on the team they are playing.
So, if you simply pay income taxes in Wisconsin and don’t play in Major League Baseball. your income taxes are not going to pay for the Brewers to remain here, according to GOP leadership.
The proposal also changes the American Family Field stadium board, to include people who are knowledgeable about operating the stadium, not “business interests,” according to Wisconsin Rep. Robert Brooks during the press briefing on Monday.
Rep. Brooks also floated the idea of using the stadium for other purposes, like a “monster truck show.”
Lawmakers said the Brewers going to contribute another $100 million, plus current rent and other investments.
Lawmakers introduced this bill on Monday. It still has to go through the usual committees and Assembly and Senate votes.
The Milwaukee Brewers released a statement on Monday regarding the proposal:
Following the introduction of new legislation in the state Legislature to ensure the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District has the funds necessary to meet its current lease obligations to maintain the longevity of American Family Field, Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, released the following statement:
“The Brewers have said all along that it will take creative, bipartisan solutions to keep Major League Baseball in Wisconsin for the next generation. Today’s proposal from Republicans in the legislature, along with an earlier plan by Governor Evers, shows that there is true consensus across party lines for a solution to extend the life of American Family Field.
“With a $2.5 billion statewide economic impact that supports thousands of jobs, maintaining a first-rate ballpark is crucial for the Brewers to compete and Major League Baseball to remain viable in Wisconsin. It is important that we build on this momentum and focus on a plan that keeps America’s favorite pastime here in Wisconsin.
“We oppose the return of the five-county tax, and we are prepared to commit to a generational lease extension for the Brewers to remain at American Family Field.”
Owned primarily by the Stadium District, American Family Field’s sole tenant – and only reason for the facility’s existence – is the Milwaukee Brewers. Under the team’s lease agreement with the Stadium District, the District is responsible for all major capital repairs and necessary improvements – including those required for legal or Major League Baseball compliance. Recently it has been determined that the district will require additional funds to honor its lease obligations to the Brewers, or future obligations like them.
Since opening its doors in 2001, the ballpark has contributed $2.5 billion in direct statewide impact, according to a study released by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, contributes $16.8 million annually in net new tax revenue to the state, and supported 3,000 jobs in 2022 alone. As the smallest market as defined by the MLB, Milwaukee requires a premier ballpark to drive ticket sales and remain economically viable in keeping a professional baseball team in Wisconsin – making maintenance of the ballpark all the more critical.
“The agreement that we have requires the stadium to have enough revenues to keep the ball park up to the standards that were set there in the original lease, and unfortunately the amount of money that was generated has been spent so far and doesn’t even allow the team to remain in Wisconsin unless something is done as quickly as possible.”
The proposal keeps the Brewers in Milwaukee through 2050.
The plan does not include new taxes from the state.
Instead, expenses associated with the Brewers will be paid using income taxes from players playing at American Family Field. Meaning the players on the Brewers and the players on the team they are playing.