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Bucks Arena Plan Advances as Senate Approves Funding Deal

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks

The plan to use public funding to help build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks has cleared a major hurdle. Wednesday evening, the state Senate approved the deal on a vote of 21 to 10.

Republicans had to convince a number of Democrats to go along with the plan.

Before the vote, senators made a few revisions to the bill they took up last week in the Joint Committee on Finance.

One removes the requirement that the state collect back taxes and other money people owe Milwaukee County. The measure would have helped the county contribute $4 million a year to the arena package, over the next 20 years. Critics were turned off by the idea that people who might be struggling would have to pay for the arena. The county still will be responsible for $4 million a year. It will be covered through reduced shared revenue payments from the state.

Another change Wednesday was the creation of a $2 surcharge on arena tickets. It will help offset the contributions from the district and the state.

Key portions of the package remain intact, including the state’s contribution of $4 million a year, for the next 20 years, and Milwaukee’s pledge to build a parking garage, and to provide infrastructure costs and tax incremental financing nearby. The Wisconsin Center District will cover the lion’s share of the public’s contribution, by indefinitely collecting taxes that were set to expire.

Under the plan, taxpayers will cover a total of $250 million for the project, plus interest. The Bucks’ current and former owners also are promising $250 million.

Ann-Elise is WUWM's news director.
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