Will Miller Park tax ever end?
Drop in revenues may mean it will pass its predicted demise in 2014

By JOHN BUCHEL - GM Today Staff 

May 17, 2008


A dramatic drop in sales tax revenues has imperiled the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park Districtís prediction the sales tax that helped finance the construction and maintenance of Miller Park could sunset in 2014.


The baseball season always heats up as summer comes into its full glory, and with it the debate about the one-tenth-cent sales tax levied on five southeastern Wisconsin counties to pay for Miller Park renews itself for another year.

A dramatic drop in sales tax revenues has imperiled the Southeast Wisconsin Profess-ional Baseball Park Districtís prediction the sales tax could sunset in 2014, and the longer itís in place, the more taxpayers will end up shelling out, according to County Board Supervisor Mark McCune of the town of Erin.

Stadium tax revenues pay not only for the debt of Miller Parkís construction, but also for improvements to the park by contributing to segregated funds. The Milwaukee Brewersí lease on the stadium stipulated that if 75 percent of other Major League Baseball stadiums include an amenity, the stadium district will install it with the use of these funds.

These funds paid for such improvements as the ribbon board, a narrow video screen which wraps around the grandstand at the base of the Club Level, among other improvements, according to McCune, who was recently appointed to the stadium district board by County Board Chairman Herb Tennies.

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"Thereís a bunch of supervisors that were really shocked that we had to do that but unfortunately we donít have any say in that. It was in the contract," McCune said. "A lot of it is cut and dry with the original contracts and the lease."

Stadium district Executive Director Michael Duckett said the district assumed control of Milwaukee County Stadium in its final years and he saw firsthand the code issues the then-42-year-old park was encountering - from pipes bursting and spraying people to falling chunks of concrete. He has since warmed to the idea of the segregated fund, even though it is collected from the sales tax, because it gives the district leverage as owner of the stadium.

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This story appeared in The West Bend Daily News on May 17, 2008.