(MADISON)—Today, Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) issued the following statement regarding the announcement of a Republican plan to extend operation of American Family Field to 2050:
“The Republican plan to provide state and local money for maintenance and upgrades at American Family Field was the result of secret negotiations and deal-making behind closed doors.
“Speaker Robin Vos has reneged on his Shared Revenue deal and now wants to claw black $7.5 million annually—over $200 million total—from Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee, just months after approving additional Shared Revenue for them. If Milwaukee was going to be on the hook for maintaining AmFam Field, we should have had this conversation during the Shared Revenue negotiation.
“I’m renewing my call for an audit and program evaluation of the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau. The last time such an audit was performed was in 2002. The public and the Legislature need to have full confidence that no stone is left unturned before hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on a luxury product like a professional ballpark. I’ve asked repeatedly for an audit to be done only to be denied each time. Without a full accounting, and without the Brewers opening up their books for review, I cannot support this deal.
“It is totally fiscally irresponsible for us to make decisions about hundreds of millions of dollars without any independent verification. In 2020, when the 5-County Sales Tax finally sunsetted, the District assured the public that it had funds in escrow to maintain the stadium through 2040. A condition of ending the tax, put in place by board appointees from Governor Evers and his two predecessors, was settling all the bonds and earning the approval of the bonding authority. I want to know why so much additional taxpayer money is necessary to meet our previously satisfied obligations and extend the lifespan of the stadium. This bill contains no requirement that an audit be conducted by the Legislative Audit Bureau.
“It is in the interest of the Brewers—not the taxpayers—to negotiate this deal without making the details public. The Brewers need to open their books in good faith to provide verification and accountability on their part. It is not fair to the taxpayers of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and the state of Wisconsin for the deal to be negotiated in secret, and it undercuts a previously negotiated and settled deal to increase revenue for the local governments.
“My constituents want to see the Brewers stay, but they don’t want to be a piggy bank to be tapped by professional sports teams with no accounting or accountability.
“I am encouraged by the promise made during his press conference by Representative Rob Brooks to consider amendments. I look forward to working with the bill’s authors to find a solution that truly works for Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and the Brewers. If amendments are not considered in good faith, then this would be just one more broken promise.”