The Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball team has welcomed a commitment from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to provide significant funds to improve American Family Field.
Evers’ office announced today (Tuesday) that $290m (£239m/€271m) from the state’s surplus has been allocated for repairs to the stadium, which opened in 2001. The commitment is set to be included in Evers’ budget, which will be released tomorrow.
The funds would be provided in exchange for the Brewers extending a lease deal to play at American Family Field until 2043.
In a statement reported by the Associated Press news agency, Evers said: “As Governor, and also someone who happens to be a lifelong Brewers fan, I’m so excited about the historic opportunity we have today to keep Major League Baseball here in Milwaukee for another 20 years and to usher in a new generation of Brewers fans in Wisconsin who can grow up rooting for the home team just like I did.”
Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations at the Brewers, welcomed the news and said the team is keen to maintain the longevity of the stadium, which is owned by the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District.
The Stadium District is responsible for all major capital repairs and improvements at American Family Field, effectively serving as the Brewers’ landlord. In a statement, the Brewers said that it has recently come to light that the Stadium District will require additional funds to honour its lease obligations to the team. Evers’ office confirmed that the funds would be given to the Stadium District.
Schlesinger said: “The Milwaukee Brewers are committed to working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to extend the life of American Family Field and help make Major League Baseball possible in Wisconsin for the next generation.
“This will require creative solutions that garner bipartisan support. We oppose the return of the five-county tax, and we are prepared to commit to a lease extension for the Brewers to remain at American Family Field through at least 2043.
“We are not asking for the Stadium District to take on new financial obligations under the lease, or for a new ballpark – just the resources to make sure the Stadium District’s existing obligations are met. As we said when the Stadium District’s funding shortfall first became known, we have remained focused on gathering facts and information that everyone can rely upon through a full capital needs assessment. This process of having Venue Solutions Group (VSG) perform a capital needs assessment, combined with additional diligence by the state’s consultant CAA Icon, has established those facts.
“American Family Field has had a $2.5bn statewide economic impact, created thousands of jobs, and made it possible for a team in a small market like Milwaukee to compete. We thank Gov. Evers and the Legislature for their consideration of this issue as we work with them, the Stadium District, and all key stakeholders on next steps.”