Five Thoughts: Please Help Build Milwaukee’s New Arena
Posted by travissarandos
Voting on the Wisconsin State Budget takes place this month, which is normally something that ranks between “What occurred on this week’s episode of The Bachelorette?” and “How many strands of hair does my friend Jon have on his head well let’s count ’em and find out” on my List of Things I Care To Devote My Attention to. The state budgeting process is both boring and complicated, so it’s something I don’t really understand and don’t care to learn about, and politics in general only serves to make folks mad or depressed so why bother getting worked up anyway.
This year, however, we’ve got something to talk about. The push to get approval for public funding for a new Milwaukee arena that will house the Bucks is nearing a crucial point as the NBA’s deadline of 2017 to either put the Bucks up in nicer digs or lose them forever rushes ever closer. There’s all sorts of fiscal policy, politic-y type of nonsense surrounding the issue, and if you want to read about all that in depth from a bunch of sportswriters and bloggers who have a highly questionable grasp on it themselves, you can find it elsewhere. Here I’m just presenting five common sense arguments in support of the plan, and before you place me on one side or another of any political spectrum, you should know that it absolutely horrifies me to be on the same side as Scott Walker on any issue more complicated than, “Should I wear shoes today?”
1) If you are a taxpayer outside of Milwaukee County and are opposed to the Bucks arena on principle because “Why the heck should I have to help pay for it?” well, just stop it. Under the currently proposed plan, the state’s portion of the bill would cost taxpayers about $4 million dollars per year, while the state would collect at least $6.5 million dollars per year in tax revenue from NBA players (h/t Wisconsin State Journal); keep in mind that that figure is literally certain to go up, since the average salary for a big four professional sports league has decreased exactly zero times, and NBA salaries in particular are set to explode when their new TV deal kicks in after next season. That revenue will be gone if this arena deal is not approved — there is no alternative under which the state could retain that revenue while refusing to support the arena funding plan.
2) If your main argument is “Well, the Bucks owners should just pay for the arena themselves, they’re all billionaires and they can afford it, so just what the heck’s going on here anyway, guys?” then well, you’re right they could afford it, and that would be swell if they’d pay for it all, but they aren’t going to and that’s that. Is it silly that we have to help line billionaires’ pockets with our tax money? Sure it is. But we do that on an hourly basis in every facet of our lives every single day anyway for things that are a lot less cool than a brand new sports and entertainment district which would serve as the home for a group of 12 of the best basketball players on planet Earth. If you’re intent on making sure none of your tax money goes to greedy billionaires who shouldn’t need your help to subsidize their businesses, well I hope you’ve taken some survivalist courses at the Y because it looks like you’re headed to Montana to find a piece of land in the woods where you’ll just have to hope that no one finds you to collect their 14.5% of the rabbits y’all trapped for dinner. Get real, people.
3) In truth, we should be glad that Mark Lasry, Wes Edens and Senator Kohl have offered to contribute as much as they have to the building of a new arena for the city of Milwaukee. Kansas City, Seattle and Las Vegas are all in an absolute lather to acquire a major league sports team, and one of those three cities would almost certainly be the landing spot for the Bucks should they fail to find a new Milwaukee home. Kansas City has already built their arena (one that was almost entirely publicly funded), and Seattle and Las Vegas are set to break ground on theirs in the very near future. The fact is that the city of Milwaukee has absolutely no leverage in this supposed battle against the bully NBA and it’s billionaire owners, and yet the Bucks’ new and former owners have given a ton of ground anyway.
4) One thing that a lot of people seem to be unable to grasp is that this is not the “Bucks new arena”. This is Milwaukee’s new arena. The Bucks will use it 43 to 59 times every year (hopefully skewing toward the high side of that scale). This leaves around 300 other days during which the Bucks will not be occupying the space, and Milwaukee can make money off of its investment. Marquette’s men’s basketball team will likely lose a lot of games in it, and will pay rent to do so. The Admirals will likely move in, and will pay rent to do so. Y’all like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? The Bradley Center has hosted first and second round games a bunch of times; how about we bring a regional final to the Brew City? UFC and WWE and the WBA and other acronyms for folks punching other folks in the head will bring their events; Anna and Elsa will come through with Disney on Ice; maybe Taylor Swift will come to town. TAYLOR SWIFT Y’ALL. You think the #1989WorldTour would have skipped past Milwaukee if we had a shiny new arena for her to be the damn queen in?
5) Having things costs money. You don’t buy a nice couch for your living room because it makes fiscal sense and the debt incurred by the purchase of the couch will be more than offset by the revenue generated from the people who are going to use your new couch. You buy a nice couch because living rooms should have couches and having a nice looking spot to sit down and watch a basketball game (on your nice television which you also didn’t buy because it was a sound financial decision) is really nice. You buy a nice couch because when folks come over to your house they expect there to be a couch there because you’ve always had a couch before, and if there isn’t a couch they’ll start to wonder just what the heck kind of dummy would have a living room with no couch in it. They probably won’t want to come visit anymore since it’s boring at your house without a couch, and they’ll wonder why anyone would want to live in a house with no couch in it.
Look you guys, we can all make all the arguments for and against this dumb hyper-political state budget plan that we want. Ultimately, I don’t care about any of that nonsense. It boils down to one simple truth for me: I don’t want to lose my basketball team. Not now, after suffering through a lifetime in which I’ve experienced three playoff series wins, two of which came in the same year and the third having occurred while I was still in diapers. Not now, when it seems the Bucks finally have some sense of direction, and finally seem to have a core worth getting excited about for the first time since the Bucks passed on their current coach to take Glenn Robinson in 1994. Not now, when I can finally proudly say that, “My favorite NBA team is the Milwaukee Bucks.” Build the arena. Vote yes. #SaveOurBucks