MLB Commissioner tours AmFam Field, Board votes against tax levy for renovations
By TMJ4 Web Staff, Associated Press,2023-05-25
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Thursday to not use a Milwaukee County tax levy to support maintenance and renovations at American Family Field.
It comes as the Brewers seek hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding to get that work done. Gov. Tony Evers and Republican leaders are at odds over how that should look.
The Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) was at American Family Field on Thursday to get a first-hand look at the situation. TMJ4's Lance Allan had a chance to talk with Rob Manfred.
Manfred was in Milwaukee on his annual tour to meet with players in cities and teams all over the league, but the pending issues surrounding the upgrades and improvements were sure to be a topic.
(Associated Press reporting below)
Manfred expressed confidence the state would work something out.
The Brewers’ lease, which runs through 2030, calls for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to cover repairs. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the team have said the district does not have enough money to pay for what is needed, and the state surplus provides a chance to fund it without implementing a new tax or borrowing money.
“This is a gem of a ballpark,” Manfred said. “It’s really important that the existing obligation under the lease be funded so that this great ballpark is maintained on a regular basis. It needs to be done in a timely way.”
Evers proposed spending nearly $300 million in taxpayer money to make improvements at the stadium, a plan that Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared to be dead on arrival. Republicans who control the Legislature have yet to unveil their own alternative, but talks have been ongoing in private.
Vos has said he wants to work a deal that would look for a commitment from the team to remain in Milwaukee longer and not rely as heavily on money from a one-time budget surplus that’s projected to be around $7 billion.
“The choices that are made between the various ways that public funds can be spent are choices that legislators have to make,” Manfred said. “What I can say is that this ballpark is an asset. The Brewers are interested in a long-term relationship, an extension of the lease that keeps them here.”
Manfred noted that Milwaukee’s situation is “really the antithesis of what happened in Oakland.”
“This is an A-plus facility when it’s built,” Manfred said. “It’s been well maintained. Ownership has made a commitment not only to put a competitive team on the field, but to do its share in terms of keeping this stadium. And most important, the fans here have supported the team enthusiastically. I think the real decision that needs to be made here is what we can do to maintain that really great dynamic.
“Oakland, unfortunately, it’s a facility that was never as good as this one when it started. They made some unfortunate decisions not to maintain the ballpark in the way that it needed to be maintained. It resulted in a decline in the attendance, which had an impact on the quality of product the team could afford to put on the field.”
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