MILWAUKEE — FOX6 News has learned Governor Scott Walker will sign the Milwaukee Bucks arena funding bill next week — on Wednesday, August 12th at State Fair Park.
The Wisconsin Assembly passed the bill to have taxpayers pay $250 million to help pay for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee on July 28th.
The bill passed on a bipartisan 52-34 vote.
The Wisconsin Senate passed the bill on July 15th with a 21-10 vote.
Under the agreement, current and former Bucks owners will pay $250 million toward the $500 million cost of the arena. The taxpayer portion will eventually grow to about $400 million over 20 years.
Supporters say the new arena will bring jobs to Milwaukee and help improve the economy of the state. They say a new arena will help the city and state continue to move forward.
The Milwaukee Bucks released the following statement from President Peter Feigin after the bill passed the Assembly:
“Our collective effort to create a world-class sports and entertainment district in the heart of Milwaukee took a monumental step forward thanks to the bipartisan leadership of elected officials in Madison. We’re incredibly grateful for the commitment of state, county and city officials to work together in a historic fashion to help shape this public-private partnership. There’s still work to be done and we look forward to building on this progress with the city and county, but the passage of legislation today makes our future much clearer. The Bucks will not only remain home in Wisconsin, but we’ll soon begin a transformative economic development project that will help revitalize our community and region.”
Perhaps the two most noticeable “no” votes in the Assembly came from Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee).
Rep. Bowen wanted naming rights money to go toward construction costs — and Brostoff said Milwaukee County has no set way to pay its $80 million share after the Senate removed a plan for the state to collect unpaid debt within the county.
How Milwaukee County will pay its share remains one of the unanswered questions as it relates to the new Bucks arena.
“The $80 million is gonna be a huge cut to Milwaukee County and I don`t know how it`s gonna be made up. No one`s set any contingency plan,” Rep. Brostoff said.
“They can still use that opportunity with the state — it`s just not mandated as part of this proposal,” Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said.
Supporters say there will be answers in the future — a future they say just got much brighter.
“Will the new arena be hosting NBA Finals games within a few years? I`m not one to predict but I think we look forward to our future. We have a chance to grow, get better each day and our goal is to hold that gold trophy in that new arena,” Bucks Head Coach Jason Kidd said.
As for Milwaukee County’s share — supporters say it’s possible they’ll come back in the fall and pass bills that will help Milwaukee County come up with the money needed to pay that $80 million.