How does the public funding arrangement for the Brewers stack up against those of other professional sports teams


How does the public funding arrangement for the Brewers stack up against those of other professional sports teams?

Public Funding for Sports Stadiums: A Nationwide Comparison”

American Family Field, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, is poised to undergo substantial renovations, courtesy of a new proposal from Wisconsin Republican lawmakers. Under this plan, the stadium, which has served the Brewers for over two decades, will receive a financial injection of approximately $600 million from state and local coffers over nearly three decades, with an additional $100 million pledged by the Milwaukee Brewers themselves.

This development is part of a long-standing tradition in the United States, where states and municipalities have consistently allocated significant sums of public money to the construction and renovation of sports stadiums. According to CNBC, this support has totaled at least $4.3 billion since 2003. However, the financial impact that teams promise in return for these stadium projects continues to be a subject of ongoing debate.

Let’s examine how the Milwaukee Brewers’ deal compares to the financial support provided to other sports stadiums across the country:

1. Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

The Fiserv Forum, home to the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette men’s basketball, was built with an overall cost of $524 million, with $250 million contributed by taxpayers. This public funding came in various forms, including $203 million from the state, $47 million from the city through tax incremental financing districts, and $93 million from the Wisconsin Center District.

2. Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois:

The Chicago Cubs undertook a $500 million renovation project for Wrigley Field a decade ago. Notably, this project received no public funding; the owners of the Cubs assumed the entire financial responsibility for the renovation. A new agreement allowed the owners to explore new revenue streams outside the stadium and to develop additional facilities such as a hotel, plaza, and office building.

3. Oakland Athletics’ New Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada:

The Oakland Athletics will be relocating to Las Vegas in 2028, and the city plans to construct a new stadium, projected to cost approximately $1.5 billion. Of this total, $380 million will come from public financing, including $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in county bonds. It is expected that a special tax district around the stadium will generate revenue to cover these bonds and interest, without directly raising taxes.

4. Potential New Kansas City Royals Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas:

The Kansas City Royals are exploring options for a new stadium, with public funding potentially playing a significant role. The owners have indicated they are seeking $1 billion in public financing, in addition to another $1 billion in private financing. However, as of now, no formal proposal has been submitted or approved.

5. Soldier Field Renovation, Chicago, Illinois:

Chicago taxpayers are still paying off the $587 million renovation of Soldier Field, which was undertaken in 2002. Over the years, deferred payments have increased the total owed by the city to $640 million, primarily financed through municipal bonds levied by a tourism tax in Chicago.

6. Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee:

Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, scheduled to begin construction in 2024, comes with an estimated price tag of $2.1 billion. The public will contribute $1.26 billion to this project, with funding sources including state contributions, revenue bonds, hotel occupancy tax, in-stadium sales tax, and other taxes and fees.

7. New Buffalo Bills Stadium, Buffalo, New York:

The proposed new stadium for the Buffalo Bills has a budget of $1.5 billion, with $850 million of that sum to be funded publicly. This substantial public contribution accounts for more than half of the project’s total cost.

In summary, the allocation of public funds for sports stadiums is a widespread practice across the United States. While some projects receive substantial public support, others rely on private financing or partnerships. The extent to which public investment in sports stadiums benefits local communities and delivers on economic promises continues to be a topic of scrutiny and debate.


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