SBD/September 4, 2013/Facilities

Wisconsin Governor Says Any Bucks Arena Funding Would Need Voter Approval

Recent improvemnts to the Bradley Center could quell calls for a new arena
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that the "only way he and state legislators would consider a tax" for a new Bucks arena would be if Milwaukee residents "first were given a chance to vote on the matter," according to Rich Kirchen of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Walker said local residents would voice their opinions through a referendum or a "vote of some sort." But he acknowledged that "any discussion of a new tax is premature." Kirchen notes while no one has "proposed a tax or even a new arena," a sales tax has "been mentioned by some supporters of a new arena if the Milwaukee-area community decides to move forward with a project." Questions remain on which counties "would be included in a new tax proposal." Walker said that he "is not taking a position on an arena and possible public funding," and added that the concept "faces daunting challenges in winning voter support." He said that the first challenge is the BMO Harris Bradley Center is "very well maintained and has added new features in recent years to keep its amenities current." Walker added that the arena's condition is in "stark contrast to the situation when the Legislature considered approving a sales tax to support what is now Miller Park to replace outdated Milwaukee County Stadium." He said that the second challenge is the Bucks "have a smaller fan base" than the Brewers and "therefore less public support." Walker: "I don’t say that as a way of saying we shouldn't do something because I think it's important to have a team and make sure we don’t lose a team, but there are going to be some serious obstacles out there" (MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/30 issue).
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