MADISON (WITI) -- Key players are still working towards a deal as it relates to funding for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee. FOX6 News has learned Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's chief of staff were in Madison Wednesday, May 20th for a meeting on the proposed arena.
According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Wednesday's meeting was set as key players work to reach a public financing agreement prior to next Friday, May 29th. Legislative leaders have said they want to complete the Joint Committee on Finance budget deliberations by May 29th, and the arena-funding package is likely to be included in the budget.
Mayor Barrett's chief of staff tells FOX6 News staff members for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Governor Scott Walker's office took part in the meeting, along with Bucks President Peter Feigin.
There are plans for another staff-level meeting next Tuesday, May 26th and it is believed this meeting will take place in Madison, Mayor Barrett's chief of staff tells FOX6 News.
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.