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A great deal of arena news came down today and with it comes our first appeal to you. We’ll need you to come out in force next Tuesday for the special County Board hearing just announced.
June 9th – 5:30pm – County Board Public Hearing at the War Memorial Center
Today the news came out that the Bucks’ owners are looking to purchase the remaining Park East acreage west of the river for development of not only the arena but also a new practice facility, restaurants, a hotel, apartments, parking garages, etc. Tom Daykin with MJS first reported it here. This would be a $400 million privately funded development in addition to the arena itself.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is proposing to sell the 10-acres of Park East land west of the river to the Bucks owners for development purposes for the price of $1. The County Board of Supervisors will need to approve the sale. To that end, the County Board has announced a public hearing on Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30pm to allow the public to weigh-in on the proposal.
The good news is that the location of this hearing will be at the War Memorial Center on the lakefront and free parking will be provided (750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive.) We anticipate that this hearing will garner significant media coverage. At this hearing there will be a veritable Star Wars bar scene of different people with different agendas. Some will be excited about the fact that Park East land west of the river is actually being developed after being on the market since 2002 with no takers. There will also be citizens who will insist the property is worth more than the island of Maui and that the County board should hold on to the land for another decade or more until they can find a new developer willing to pay an exorbitant price for it.
What we’ll need at this meeting is YOU! We’ll need you in your best Bucks gear at the War Memorial to represent Bucks fans everywhere. Attendance at this meeting does not mean you will need to speak at the hearing unless you want to. The most important thing for us will be the number of people wearing Bucks gear at this meeting. Supportive signs are good as well.
We’re going to spend the next week in conjunction with the other members of the Bucks online community in getting the word out. This will be the first chance for local and State legislators to see if Bucks fans “care”. If only ten of you show up? Well let’s just say that will embolden the arena detractors.
Since the hearing is going to start at 5:30pm, we’d encourage you to get there at 5:15pm. But if you can’t be there early, be sure to still come. The session may go on for a few hours.
Mark it down. Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30pm at the Milwaukee War Memorial on the Lakefront.
Follow us on social media for more updates and be listening for our spokesman Paul Henning on local radio this weekend as well.
Our Take on the Last 24-Hours
Many of you are asking where things stand with the arena. You are hearing a lot of hyperbole coming from a number of quarters. That tells us things are starting to get serious.
Right now we’ve got the ideologues on both sides of the political fence squawking the loudest trying to use the arena issue for larger political purposes. Charlie Sykes, conservative radio talker on the Bucks flagship station 620 WTMJ, is perhaps using the issue as a wedge to try to drive home repeal of the State’s prevailing wage law in exchange for the Bucks arena, as his digital platform contemplates in a new piece tonight. We’d ask Sykes to read our piece from the other night, noting that the new arena funding plan actually makes money for the State, and that yes, indeed, Bucks and visiting NBA players will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars in income tax to the State over the next 30-years even under this new plan.
Interestingly enough, the other Milwaukee conservative talk radio icon, Mark Belling, has reviewed the revised arena funding plans and is generally supportive of it subject to certain details and safeguards being worked out. Belling’s point being that no entities have come forward to invest a dime in the moonscape known as those primary Park East corridor lots since they came on the market over a decade ago. Belling recognizes that we’ve now got a plan in front of us to not only keep the Bucks and all the tax revenue they generate for the State, but also a shot at transforming a blighted section of the City even though the location isn’t necessarily his first choice. In the meantime Belling concurs that use of the existing Wisconsin Center District tax revenues to pay a portion of the bonds is not a “tax increase” as some on the right are trying to contort it into.
On the other side of the aisle, Milwaukee Alderman Bob Baumann, whose district the new arena will be located in, threw his hands up today and called the arena funding plan “fundamentally dishonest” because it evidently wouldn’t tax the people of Milwaukee directly. Bauman wants a full one cent increase in the City of Milwaukee sales tax to not only pay for the arena project but also fund a number of other things on his wish list. We’re not sure there is another alderman in the country who would turn his nose up on a project that will provide his district with a $500 million to $1 billion dollar economic development project because it doesn’t tax his constituents enough.
We’ve actually got a well thought out civic project with benefits for all sides. Jobs, sports, increased tax revenues, redevelopment, outside money. You’ve got conservative Scott Walker and liberal Chris Abele supporting it. There might actually be a pretty worthwhile project here if you can look past the political posturing.
We’d encourage the people on both sides to dial it down and work towards a compromise that gets this done. As the Rolling Stones so eloquently say —
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”
This debate is going to do nothing but get louder in the days ahead. That’s why we need you to get loud. Make sure you join us at the County Board hearing next Tuesday night, June 9th at 5:30pm.
Your SOB editor
Note: Thank you to Bucks fan Tom Dickerson for his creation of the “Build It” graphic above. Great work and hopefully a rallying sign for all of us in social media.