The top Republican in the Wisconsin Assembly sounds as if he is confident that lawmakers will find some money to repair American Family Field and keep the Brewers in Milwaukee, but he says Gov. Tony Evers is making it harder than it has to be.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday blasted the governor for suddenly announcing a plan earlier this week to earmark $290 million for long-term maintenance at the Brewer’s ballpark.
“You would think, like under Gov. Walker, whose leadership was to bring Democrats and Republicans together, sit in a room and figure out a deal that we can all support. And that’s why the Bucks are here in Wisconsin,” Vos told Jay Weber on News Talk 1130 WISN. “But Tony Evers is so unbelievably inept as a leader that he just drops this bomb.”
The Brewers have been working for years to find the money to take care of about $400 million in maintenance at American Family Field. The Stadium District, which is responsible for the ballpark, has about $87 million in the bank right now. That leaves a gap of about $300 million.
Vos didn’t make any promises but did say the Republican-controlled legislature will lead the conversation about closing that gap going forward.
“Tony Evers had abdicated being a leader,” Vos said. “We’re going to see if we’re going to be able to structure a deal like the Bucks, where it will be cheaper to keep them. We want to make sure that we have the players’ salaries where they pay income taxes in Wisconsin. If they leave, we lose that money.”
Back in 2016, then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a law that provided $250 million to help build Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. That money covered about half of the total construction cost. The new arena kept the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks went on to win an NBA Championship in 2021. And Fiserv has gone on to host the canceled Democratic National Convention in 2020, and is slated to host the Republican National Convention in 2024.
Vos said the Brewers need to square away American Family Field to offset the challenges of being a small market team.
“The Brewers depend much more on ticket sales and the revenue generated on the stadium site than other teams are required to do, because of their TV deals,” Vos added. “So we need a state-of-the-art facility.”
But Vos said, again, that the governor is making that much more complicated than it has to be.
“He’s really poisoned the well for an awful lot of people by pitting the taxpayers against the team, and it shouldn’t have to be that way,” Vos explained.