Design & Development

Wisconsin moves forward with Brewers stadium funding package

Featured image credit: Brewersfan1061/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED/Edited for size

The Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball team has welcomed a vote in the Wisconsin State Assembly on legislation that would extend the franchise’s lease at American Family Field until at least 2050.

The Brewers’ current lease deal at American Family Field runs until 2030. Last month, a bill was proposed by Republican legislators in Wisconsin that would see the state provide the team with $60.8m (£50m/€57m) in the next fiscal year and up to $20m each year thereafter until 2045-46.

As part of that proposal, which would keep the Brewers at American Family Field until 2050, the City of Milwaukee would contribute $202m towards renovation work, with Milwaukee County to provide $135m and the team itself to contribute around $100m. At the time, the Brewers did not express support for the proposal, which would require approval from Tony Evers, the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin.

In February, Evers committed to providing $290m from the state’s surplus to repair American Family Field, which opened in 2001. These funds would be provided in exchange for the Brewers extending a lease deal to play at the stadium until 2043. Evers last month criticised the Republicans for rejecting his proposal.

This week, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved a $546m funding deal for American Family Field. The Brewers would contribute a further $100m under this proposal.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the bill was passed with 69 votes in favour and 27 against. Forty-seven Republicans and 22 Democrats voted in favour of the plan, which WPR notes has undergone amendments in recent weeks so that Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee will contribute lower amounts.

Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are now set to contribute $135m, with the state to provide $411m.

Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations at the Brewers, said: “Today’s vote by a bipartisan majority of the State Assembly shows that momentum continues to grow for a solution to maintain American Family Field and to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee for the next generation.

“We are very grateful for the leadership of legislative and local officials, as well as that of Governor Evers, who have helped to negotiate creative solutions that protect taxpayers and avoid the return of the five-county sales tax.”

Schlesinger said the team will continue to work with stakeholders in the days and weeks ahead, and stressed the need to provide the Stadium District, which owns the venue, with resources to honour the current lease agreement with the Brewers.

The Stadium District oversees all major capital repairs, all retractable roof repairs, and necessary improvements at American Family Field. Major League Baseball defines Milwaukee as the smallest market in the league, and the Brewers have stated that a “premier ballpark” is required to drive ticket sales and allow the team to continue being competitive.