I have issues with public funding of arena deals, not just for NBA teams but also for NFL, MLB or any other sport. I don’t like them, period. And I don’t like that billionaires use the threat of moving a team to pressure governments into helping them build shiny, new arenas where they get the lion’s share of the income.
Which is what just happened with the Bucks. The state of Wisconsin recently approved a $250 million deal to help fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, a deal that keeps that team in that city long term. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — a Republican presidential candidate — pushed for that deal saying the expense was worth it to keep the team and the revenue it generates in the state.
He was on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday and host Chuck Todd pushed him on that deal, asking him to defend the expenditure, and Walker did, calling it “fiscally responsible.”
“You’re talking about being a fiscally responsible person, I am. That’s precisely why I did this,” he said….
“For the state of Wisconsin, it’s less than $4 million a year to protect $6.5 million we collect. And over the next 20 years, that grows to a total of just shy of $300 million the state collects in income taxes for less than $80 million,” he said. “I’d be a fool.”
I’m not going to get into what the questionable math, or how the billionaires that own the Bucks have been regular contributors to Walkers’ campaigns, I’ll just say I may not like it, but I’m happy the Bucks are staying in Milwaukee.