MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Talks about a new downtown Milwaukee Bucks arena could be heating back up. Bucks President Peter Feigin was called to Madison on Monday, May 18th -- the same day a coalition representing 20,000 trades-people announced support for the project.
Feigin had to miss a luncheon in Milwaukee Monday. He was supposed to be a panelist. Instead, multiple sources confirm for FOX6 Feigin was asked to attend a meeting at Governor Scott Walker's office in Madison. That is encouraging news for a group that pledged support for a new Bucks arena Monday.
Ken Kraemer, the executive director of "Building Advantage" sounds like a lot of Bucks officials when he touts the potential benefits of a new arena in downtown Milwaukee.
"I don`t wanna keep saying the city or Milwaukee County, but the whole state -- having an NBA team is pretty important to any state," Kraemer said.
"Building Advantage" is a coalition of about 600 union contractors and 20,000 trades-people.
"There`s no guarantee we`re gonna get the work or not get the work, but we`ve always felt being involved at the ground level, to show our customers that we support economic development and things that benefit everyone, not just us, is important," Kraemer said.
The proposed arena district has drawn interest from developers and others looking to possibly relocate, including the Milwaukee Public Museum. MPM President Dennis Kois says museum officials have just begun a long-term planning process.
"Whether it`s the Menomonee Valley, whether it`s downtown, whether it`s part of an arena district and if that even makes sense for an arena district, those are all questions that have yet to be answered," Kois said.
As it relates to the arena, the biggest unanswered question is where the money will come from. State, county and city leaders have met privately on multiple occasions in an effort to finalize a funding plan.
The Milwaukee Bucks have unveiled plans for a $500 million arena and a $500 million sports and entertainment complex.
The sports and entertainment district would be paid for mostly by private enterprises — but the arena requires public funding.
Governor Scott Walker’s funding plan calls for the state contributing $220 million in bonds — with some funds coming from players’ income taxes and $50 million coming from other sources, such as the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. So far, the city of Milwaukee has offered $25 million. Milwaukee County hasn't offered a specific amount, but County Executive Chris Abele says he's willing to match the $25 million and possibly more.
Some lawmakers are calling Walker’s plan “dead on arrival” due to its price-tag.
Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)’s plan calls for the state contributing $150 million via a loan through the state’s “Public Lands Board.”
Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman has suggested Milwaukee County create a one percent sales tax. Bauman says the money would cover the public funding for the project, as well as other public needs, such as parks, cultural institutions and transit, things currently covered by property taxes. The one percent sales tax would put the sales tax in Milwaukee County at 6.6%, and Bauman believes Milwaukee County’s property tax levy would drop significantly.
Former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million, and the new Bucks owners have pledged $150 million towards this project.
The state’s contribution ($150 million to $220 million), the city/county contribution ($50 million), and the pledges from Kohl and the new Bucks owners ($250 million) combined could come up short of the $500 million needed for the arena. If the state contributes $150 million, the total would be $450 million — $50 million short.
Governor Walker has said for the state's Legislature to agree upon public funding for a new Bucks arena, the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County must make a 'more meaningful contribution,' but Walker has declined to put forth a specific dollar amount.
Walker has said he doesn't want to see a tax increase to help pay for the arena. He also maintained the Republican-controlled Legislature isn't willing to contribute more than $150 million in state dollars.
Kraemer says Monday's announcement from "Building Advantage" is a message of general support for their efforts.
"This is good for everybody and if you`re hung up just on what the cost is gonna be, on the front end of it, I ask you to please look beyond when it`s done, what it can do for us," Kraemer said.
Bucks officials wouldn't confirm Feigin was in Madison Monday. They would only say progress is being made as arena negotiations continue.