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Common Ground Calls for Fair Play in Recreation Funding

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The effort to build a new downtown arena for the Milwaukee Bucks took another step forward last week.  

County Executive Chris Abele announced the sale of Park East land near the current BMO Harris Bradley Center to the Bucks to make way for a practice facility.  A detail in the state budget bill that passed this year removed the county board from overseeing that land sale. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Common Council will vote later this month on the city’s contribution to the public financing of the arena. 

It’s a deal the grass-roots organization Common Ground hopes the council will reject.  The group has called for the Bucks to contribute millions of dollars toward an effort to improve recreational facilities for kids in Milwaukee. 

Back in June of 2013, Common Ground released a report on the condition of public school sports facilities in Milwaukee County. Of the 268 sites examined, two thirds had a rating of fair, poor, or terrible.

In addition to calling on the Bucks to contribute, Common Ground also called upon Bucks owner Wesley Edens’ company, Nationstar Mortgage, to provide money for struggling Milwaukee homeowners – something it did last week. 

Keisha Krumm, lead organizer for Common Ground; and Jennifer O’Hear, chair of the group’s Fair Play campaign want efforts and funds to be redirected from the arena back into Milwaukee neighborhoods in need.

"We didn't think we had the power to stop this arena vote. The interest behind it just have too much money and too much influence. What we thought we could do was make sure that there was money that went to the common good and we could broaden the investment," explains O'Hear.

As the arena proposals continue to move forward, Common Ground plans to keep the pressure on the city council to give back to the neighborhoods of Milwaukee. O'Hear explains that if the decision makers can find a way to do something for the Bucks, they should be able to find a way to do something for the kids of Milwaukee.

"If the common council can't find the political will to invest in our neighborhoods, then in 2016 when the local elections happen we're going to make that an issue," O'Hear says.

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