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American Family Field neighborhood could mean money for stadium upgrades

Some of American Family Field’s parking lots could be redeveloped for an entertainment district, which could generate property tax revenue to help pay for impending stadium upgrades.

That’s according to a new proposal pending before the Milwaukee County Board.

This resolution does not call for a specific funding plan for long-term stadium improvements.

But it’s the first public sign of how local taxpayers might be asked to pay that tab.

The resolution, sponsored by Supervisor Peter Burgelis, calls on officials in Milwaukee and West Milwaukee to work on a study with the Southeastern Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District.

The Stadium District is a state-created agency that owns the state-funded ballpark and leases it to brewers.

This study would focus on the creation of a “mixed-use entertainment district” in Milwaukee and neighboring West Milwaukee.

It is in the latter case that the neighboring site of Komatsu Mining Corp. may be redeveloped after the company completes its move this summer to the Port District of Milwaukee.

The study would also examine how the additional tax funding could be used to help pay for parking lot redevelopment as well as future ballpark renovations – “thereby reducing or eliminating the need for a future stadium sales tax or another public subsidy”.

A TIF uses property tax revenue generated from new commercial development to help fund that private development as well as public improvements.

Finally, the study would consider ending control of several parcels in the stadium area “to coincide with any redevelopment of the stadium highway and extension of the street grid”.

A separate resolution, sponsored by Burgelis and four other supervisors, calls for removing much of the stadium freeway, also known as State Highway 175, “to return that land to the community.”

Stadium district executive director Pat Goss said he was unaware of the resolution until he was contacted by the Journal Sentinel on Monday. He declined to comment.

Tyler Barnes, Brewers vice president of communications, also declined to respond.

The reserve fund may not be enough

The stadium district has set aside $87 million in a reserve fund for future projects that the district is required to pay under the terms of the lease.

That money was part of the $605 million raised by the five-county stadium sales tax that ended in 2020.

The team’s lease runs until at least 2030. The club has the option to extend this lease until 2040.

A report commissioned by the brewers, coming this summer, will likely list projects beyond what a stadium district report has considered, with those cost estimates exceeding the contingency fund.

This therefore raises the possibility of some form of demand for public funding.

In other cities, these stadium renovation funds come from sources such as state lottery revenue, revenue from public parking structures, a local hotel tax and a special baseball ticket tax as well as concessions. and merchandise for ballparks.

Meanwhile, there has been talk of extending the Brewers’ lease as part of taxpayer-funded stadium renovations – which could total hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pending county board resolution notes, among other things, the county’s former owner of the Brewers’ former ballpark — Milwaukee County Stadium.

It was demolished after American Family Field, then known as Miller Park, opened in 2001.

Rent is currently around $1.1 million

The resolution says the annual rent paid by the Brewers, $1.1 million to $1.2 million, “has hardly increased despite the value of the real estate.”

It says the club collects “all stadium concessions, retail, naming rights and on-site parking revenue”, with most of the tax revenue generated at the stadium going to the state – and very little to the state. cash-strapped county.

Brewer officials have expressed general interest in redeveloping some of its parking lots – which sit largely empty for about half the year. But they have yet to announce any specific plans.

Similar projects in or near other sports facilities have created hotels, office buildings, restaurants and other new uses.

This includes the Titletown district of Green Bay adjacent to Lambeau Field,

The resolution also cites commercial development in downtown Milwaukee, including the Deer District, which is tied to the removal of the Park East Freeway Spur and the 2018 opening of the Fiserv Forum.

It indicates that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which has already announced that it will study replacing much of the stadium freeway north of I-94 with an at-grade boulevard, may also study the dismantling of freeway south of I-94 to West National Avenue.

Tom Daykin can be emailed at [email protected] and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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