Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Some guy dressed like Scott Allen snuck into the Capitol and voted for the Bucks Arena


It couldn’t have been our state representative from the 97th district voting for publicly funding a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, right? After all, the guy who won that special election, Scott Allen, wrote an op-ed last year explaining why he opposed public funding. Waukesha taxpayers weren’t going to pay for an arena in Milwaukee. You can read the whole op-ed, but here is the relevant part:

These days we hear about the need in Milwaukee for a new basketball arena to help retain the Milwaukee Bucks. It is suggested that the presence of the Bucks in Milwaukee helps the stature of the region and that professional basketball is a major attraction that brings an economic benefit.

Let us assume that those statements are true and a new arena is a worthy community project. How should we go about the process of funding that project?

It seems to me that opportunity for leadership exists for those who are arena advocates. It seems to me that they need to compile the facts and make the case to the community. If the case is strong enough, if the advocates are passionate enough and faithful enough, then private funding of the project is not just possible, but inevitable.

There are differences, of course, between the two cases. Certainly a new arena is a larger project with a bigger price tag. Professional sports versus volunteer arts. For profit versus non-profit. High-profile versus low-profile. Yet I believe the illustration is scalable to the Milwaukee region.

The players who have the most to gain should contribute the most and take the lead. They should be willing to assemble a good case and then make that case to Milwaukee area philanthropists. It will not be easy, but what better way is there to find out if the people of metropolitan Milwaukee support the project.

It is far too expedient to force the issue politically, to force elected representatives to take a position in favor of keeping the Bucks or being responsible for their departure. If that is the approach of new arena proponents, they will lose, and, unfortunately, the Milwaukee region will lose.

It is time for leadership. The question is: who should lead? Those with the greatest stakes.

Apparently a meteor fell from the sky, crashed through the Capitol Dome, struck poor State Representative Scott Allen in the head and gave him amnesia. You would think the odds were really against something like that happening but it happens to state politicians all the time. By the time he recovered, Allen issued a press release explaining why he voted for publicly funding a Milwaukee Bucks arena he once opposed:Capture

It might be easy to stand on some principle to oppose the funding plan. To do so, however, would be to ignore the fiscal benefits and the potential economic benefits. Over the last several months while I wrestled with the philosophical principles of public support for a private venture, the terms of the agreement have improved.

The key for me is that those who will benefit the most are contributing the most. Private investment from out of state and from within Wisconsin covers over half the cost. Public investment at the local level from the City and County of Milwaukee along with the Wisconsin Center District and the ticket purchasers collectively provides the next largest portion. Finally, the State of Wisconsin’s share of the funding formula has been reduced to a relatively small portion, and the terms of the agreement reduces the State’s long term liability with the current Bradley Center and protects the taxpayers for the next few decades.Capture2

It is my hope that the Milwaukee Bucks organization sees the value of this partnership and accepts the awesome responsibility that comes with it. The people of Wisconsin expect the Bucks to build a successful team with people of great character who will give back to the community. The people of Wisconsin expect the Bucks organization to give us a team we can be proud of and a team that can inspire us to pursue greatness. My message to the Milwaukee Bucks: the ball is in your court.”

It’s unknown if the meteor caused Allen to lose his spine completely along with his memory. Maybe the Milwaukee Bucks will be kind enough to loan Allen a personal trainer to speed his recovery. In the meantime, Jello anyone?


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