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Brewers stadium bills pass Senate; now head to Assembly

Brewers stadium bills pass Senate; now head to Assembly

Brewers officials are seeking public funding to repair and renovate the 22-year-old stadium.

November 14, 2023 11:44 AM CDT

By: Jimmie Kaska

MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – A pair of bills to finance renovations at American Family Field, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, passed in the state Senate Tuesday.

The bills, A.B. 438 and A.B. 439, each passed 19-14.

Republican votes in the Senate on each bill were split 11-11, while Democrats favored the bills 8-3.

With the bills approved, they head to the state Assembly, which will take up the measures later Tuesday. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Governor Tony Evers have both said they support the package.

Milwaukee Brewers officials sought public money for its home venue, citing needed repairs and updates to keep it up to the standards of other stadiums in Major League Baseball. The venue, which opened in 2001 as Miller Park, also hosts concerts and other sporting events throughout the year.

The plan passed by the Assembly Tuesday will send $382.5 million in state money and $135 million from the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee county, while the team would kick in $150 million and sign a lease to stay at the stadium through 2050. The difference between what the team was seeking and what legislators were willing to shell out from public dollars will be made up with ticket surcharges to non-baseball events, which would bring an additional $14.1 million to the renovation projects.

Brewers officials celebrated the passed legislation in a release sent out Tuesday after the Senate vote.

“We appreciate the leadership in the legislature and among local officials, and beginning with that of Governor Evers, as we worked with all stakeholders to help build support for a creative solution that would protect taxpayers,” Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, said. “The Brewers will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders in the days and weeks ahead, as policymakers work on the final steps to put legislation on the desk of Governor Evers.”

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard touted passage of the bills, saying that keeping the Brewers in Wisconsin is good for the state.

“The legislation passed by the Senate today not only keeps our beloved Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin, but the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the state will see a net benefit of nearly $250 million from income tax revenue alone,” Agard said in a statement. “The Milwaukee Brewers are more than just a professional sports team – they are a cornerstone of our community, a key tourism attraction, a partner to businesses across the state, a vital driver of our local and state economies, and an employer to thousands of our friends and neighbors, providing more than 1,000 good union jobs.”

Agard, who voted to approve both bills, said that legislators didn’t need to choose between the stadium and other needs.

Forbes estimates the Milwaukee Brewers are worth $1.605 billion, placing the franchise in the middle of the MLB pack in terms of franchise value. Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio is reported to have a net worth over $700 million.

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