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Milwaukee County says 'no' to tax money for MLB park upgrades

Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park July2018 now AmFam Stadium_ Brewersfan1061-Wikipedia Commons1
A view from the left field upper deck of the Milwaukee Brewers' ballpark, back when what is now American Family (AmFam) Field was known as Miller Park. (Photo by Brewersfan1061 via Wikipedia Commons)

We're six weeks into the Major League Baseball season and my two favorite teams are giving me plenty of reasons to cheer and rant. But ain't that the way with all sports?

At least my teams, the Orioles and Astros, are settled in Baltimore and Houston. I feel for the Oakland fans, where the few still going to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum are watching their underperforming A's run out the string in that California city.

This week, the MLB team and Bally's Corporation reached an agreement to build a $1.5 billion stadium on a portion of the Tropicana hotel site near the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, according to Howard Stutz of The Nevada Independent.

The good news for Vegas taxpayers is that the stadium deal should reduce the amount of public financing sought for the project to $395 million.

That's still a lot, and money that opponents of public funding of privately-owed sports franchises argue could be better used for programs that benefit more of the community.

For and against stadium subsidies: The fight over taxpayers footing costs for sports venues has been going on for as long as teams have sought new or better facilities.

Stadium tax subsidy supporters characterize the money as an investment in the community that creates jobs, both during the building process and once the facility opens. Those opposed to taxpayers helping build arenas et al say the tax subsidies are a bad economic idea — the phrase corporate welfare gets tossed around a lot. Rich owners, they demand, should "pay for their own damn stadiums."

Much of the time, however, communities, or rather the politicians who make the tax decisions, relent.

But not in Milwaukee.

No to paying for MLB park renovation: A committee within the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors this week recommended against using county funds for repairs and upgrades at American Family Field. That's where the home MLB's Milwaukee Brewers.

"You know legislation is bad when both the socialist and the conservatives agree enough to sign on to the same resolution," Supervisor Ryan Clancy said, as reported by Ricardo Torres for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Public dollars should not be going toward billionaires, especially not if they're blackmailing us with a threat to move to a different city," added Clancy.

The no-public-funding resolution now goes to full county board.

Emotions vs. dollars: I understand the emotional ploy that owners use to wheedle dollars from lawmakers and their taxpayers.

When we were in Maryland/suburban Washington, D.C., we lived through a couple of "Save the Caps" efforts to keep the NHL's Capitals in the area.

We also were there when the real NFL Colts were spirited away on a snowy March night from Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. That memory helped convince Old Line State voters and lawmakers to help fund the new football stadium for the Ravens … which came to Charm City from Cleveland, but at least not in the dark of night.

The Brewers' brass apparently says it could move that team if they don't get government funded improvements to the ballpark. But that isn't an imminent threat, which apparently (for now) looks to have doomed the proposal.

Plus, the prior government funding for the Brewers' original home, the then-named Miller Park, came from Milwaukee and four surrounding counties.

"Maybe there's a way to pause this, to come up with a solution that is not 'stick it to the taxpayers.' Because this time it's not five counties (funding the stadium), it's one county, and I think that's unacceptable. We paid our fair share. We kept the Brewers here." said Supervisor Steve Taylor, author of the no-tax-money proposal.

You also might find these other sports tax items of interest:









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