The July 3 Fireworks Show, Redbull Flugtag and Milwaukee Air & Water Show, brought in an estimated 153,000 people to the lakefront, with 37% of those visitors coming from outside the county, the parks department said. VISIT Milwaukee found the events generated more than $3.2 million in direct and indirect spending.
"The benefits of parks can’t just be measured in dollars as they bring communities together, improve wellness and protect our environment," Guy Smith, Milwaukee County Parks executive director, said in a news release.
According to Milwaukee County Parks, 35% of parks' 12 million visitors last year were from outside the county – including 12% from outside the state of Wisconsin.
"Our parks have been a major draw for visitors to Milwaukee ever since they were created in the 1890’s, however, public funding for the park system currently only comes from local property taxes," said Jeremy Lucas, the parks department's director of administration and planing, in a news release.
Red Bull Flugtag at Milwaukee's Veterans Park
State aids to local governments, Milwaukee County Parks said, have decreased over the past decade while the costs of services have grown.
Per the parks department, projections show the county needs additional revenue to avoid a fiscal cliff in five years – there will be no funds available to dedicate to services not mandated by the state, like the services provided by the parks department, that help make our region attractive to visitors.
Milwaukee’s lakefront will further boost the local economy this weekend, with the return of the USA Triathlon National Championships on Aug. 6 and 7, which will bring an estimated 6,000 athletes and $6.2 million in economic impact to the region.
U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in the 2022 Milwaukee Air & Water Show
Statement from Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley:
"Our Parks department is doing fantastic work with few resources to make sure our lakefront, trails, and neighborhood parks remain an accessible amenity for all of our residents. But, it is important to note that Milwaukee County government doesn’t have the tools to retain a portion of the economic activity we see when large events like this happen and reinvest those funds in important priorities like helping our Parks Department serve residents.
"County amenities like our parks are what attract large-scale events that generate millions in revenue. That’s why we continue to work with our regional partners and partners at the State to explore how we can retain a portion of our economic activity here and reinvest those funds in meeting basic community needs. The economic health of our region, the jobs located here, are incumbent on a successful Milwaukee. This is a solution not only for Milwaukee County, but our surrounding counties as well."