This is interesting. One of the arguments for public support for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks is that the state taxpayers will owe a lot of money if the Bucks leave. The numbers being told to us were that the state would have to pay about $20 million for outstanding debt and about $100 million for repairs on the old arena. So, it was said, state taxpayers were in the hole about $120 million if the Bucks left, so, it was reasoned, any state taxpayer support for a new arena that was less than $120 million should be acceptable.
Well, the math just changed:
Without a court reviewing the question, no one can know for certain if the state would have to assume the costs of maintaining the BMO Harris Bradley Center if the professional basketball team ended up leaving the city. But this latest finding by the independent Wisconsin Legislative Council counterbalances a contrary finding by a top lawyer and appointee of Gov. Scott Walker, a supporter of public financing for a new arena.
The state has a kind of ownership interest in the Bradley Center, but it is narrow and limited to the future, not the present, allowing state officials to refuse it if they choose, Legislative Council attorneys wrote in a memo this month to Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson), an opponent of public funding for the arena.
“For the reasons discussed above, it appears unlikely that a court would hold the state financially responsible for all debts and obligations of the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation solely on the basis of (this) ownership interest,” the attorneys wrote to Knudson, who also sits on the Legislature’s powerful budget committee.
“Documents reveal $16 million in needed repairs to the current arena, however Wisconsin law is very clear that state taxpayers have no liability whatsoever for the Bradley Center, for its maintenance or its debts,” he said.
So the number is not $120 million… it’s more like… zero. That is a very different calculation.