officials get behind Bucks arena deal
Ozaukee Assembly representatives say they intend to vote for
By Gary Achterberg -
News Graphic Staff
OZAUKEE COUNTY — There
is widespread support among elected state leaders from
Ozaukee County for funding a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.
Both state senators who represent portions of Ozaukee
County voted in favor of the funding plan, and the two
lawmakers who represent the bulk of Ozaukee County in
the state Assembly told the News Graphic Friday that
they likely will support the bill when it comes up
The Senate approved the measure, which had been
separated from the state budget and the subject of
negotiations that ran until just before Wednesday’s
vote, on a 21-10 bipartisan vote.
“I’m happy to report, the Milwaukee Bucks are here to
stay,” said state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.
As the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, she
played a role in the negotiations that preceded the
“Passing a bipartisan plan that creates good-paying
jobs, creates a destination entertainment district where
there (now) is nothing, keeps a sports team in our city,
without new taxes, is a slam-dunk,” she said.
State Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said his vote in
favor of the plan was “in the best interest of my
constituents and taxpayers throughout Wisconsin.
“The Milwaukee Bucks leaving was worse for taxpayers
across the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “The NBA
players’ income tax and ticket surcharge will more than
pay for the state portion of the new arena,” he said.
“Without a new arena, we know Wisconsin would lose at
least $6.5 million in revenue from players’ income tax,
and taxpayers will lose any revenue growth coming from
new salary cap increases,” he said. “The taxpayers have
been subsidizing current Bradley Center improvements. To
date, Republicans and Democrats have approved $16
million in bonding for Bradley Center upkeep. This
subsidy would increase without a professional sports
“I am confident this package will get Wisconsin out of
the arena business,” he added. “Required by the
proposal, the Milwaukee Bucks and other tenants will be
responsible for all arena upkeep or cost overruns.” The
bill now moves on to the Assembly. State Rep. Jim Ott,
R-Mequon, said he expects it will come up for debate and
a vote during the week of July 27. If the measure stays
in its current form, he said he will support it. “I
think this is beneficial to the state,” he said. “The
state would be putting in $4 million a year, and we’d be
getting back $6 million to $6.5 million in revenue.” He
said an initial look at the issue might cause some to
ask why the state should put any tax money into what is
basically a private business.
“If the Bucks leave, we come out
behind financially,” he said. “We will collect more
sales taxes and income taxes from the players with
salaries going up than what the state is putting into
Ott and state Rep. Rob Brooks,
R-Saukville, said that the addition of a $2-per-ticket
surcharge that will help pay for the arena was a
significant improvement to the plan.
“From a fiscal standpoint, it’s a
good deal,” said Brooks. “It’s as a good deal as we can
get at this point, especially as we have the ticket
Brooks said the discussion of the
arena package was “a real educational process.” He noted
that the Ozaukee County Board had approved a resolution
during his tenure as board chairman that opposed any
arena plan that would involve county contributions.
Ozaukee County is part of a five-county area that
continues to fund Miller Park through a 0.1 percent
“I’ve taken a very cautious approach
to this whole thing,” he said. “I didn’t want any sort
of regional tax – and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
He said it also is significant that
the bill coming over from the Senate takes the state off
the hook for ongoing maintenance, which it now is
responsible for with the Bradley Center.
“Here’s a simple analogy,” he said.
“Imagine you have a used car that is costing you $6,000
a year in maintenance – or in this case $6 million a
year in maintenance.
“If we get a new facility and get a
guarantee that you’re out of the business altogether,
wouldn’t you do that?”
Achterberg can be reached at