Wisconsin Republicans reveal plan for Milwaukee Brewers

Part of the plan would require the Brewers commit to staying in Milwaukee through 2050, which is 20 years beyond when their current lease with the state expires
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 9:49 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 12:57 PM CDT
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WMTV) – GOP lawmakers unveiled their plan to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee for another generation. On Monday, they rolled out a proposal that would heavily rely on tax money that Republicans say would match what is being paid into state coffers by Brewers’ players and team personnel.

Part of the plan would require the Brewers commit to staying in Milwaukee through 2050, which is 20 years beyond when their current lease with the state expires.

Under the proposal, the state would give the team $60.8 million next fiscal year and up to $20 million each year after that through 2045-46. 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.

Republicans are also pushing a weatherization plan in their legislation that could allow the stadium to be used for other purposes later into the year. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the initiative the thing they are the most excited about.

“We now have the opportunity for not just a few months a year, but for the entire year, to have concerts, which again are good for the economy, generate revenue for the locals and the state, and help us save a lot of money that we can use,” he said.

The original deal to pay for the construction of AmFam Field, which was then called Miller Park, was based on a 0.1 percent sales tax in Milwaukee Co. and four neighboring counties. That tax ended in 2020. In a statement welcoming the new GOP proposal, the Brewers explicitly rejected taking that route this time.

“The Brewers have said all along that it will take creative, bipartisan solutions to keep Major League Baseball in Wisconsin for the next generation,” Brewers’ President of Baseball Operations Rick Schlesinger wrote in response to Monday’s announcement. He pointed out that between the Republican plan and one proposed by Gov. Tony Evers in his budget, lawmakers have shown a bipartisan commitment to keeping the Brewers.

“It is important that we build on this momentum and focus on a plan that keeps America’s favorite pastime here in Wisconsin,” he continued.

Back in March, Gov. Tony Evers included funding for the team in his budget proposal. The Democratic governor wanted to set aside nearly $300 million to improve the Brewers’ home field.

In exchange for the taxpayer dollars, the Brewers would have had to extend their commitment to stay in town for an additional 13 years - all the way to 2043.

State lawmakers unveil a plan to pay for improvements to American Family Field and keep the Brewers in Milwaukee until 2050.

Republicans who control the legislature pronounced the proposal dead on arrival. Vos pointed to the 13-year commitment as a sticking point and said the deal was not a good one for taxpayers.

Responding to the GOP announcement on Monday, Evers’ Communications Director Britt Cudaback argued Evers plan would have saved taxpayers money in the long run but welcomed the GOP into negotiations for keeping the Brewers in Wisconsin. Cudaback added Evers would review the new plan and continue with discussions that target flexibility and ‘minimiz(ing) harm for local partners.”

Evers had implied that without public financial support the Brewers could move.

Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District is supposed to pay for repairs. The Evers Administration says the district does not have enough money for all the repairs needed. They argue using money from the current budget surplus offers an opportunity to back the team without raising taxes or going into debt.

If they did leave, it would be the second time the Cream City lost an MLB franchise. Seventy years ago, this year, the Braves arrived from Boston, only to head south 13 years later.

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