Wisconsin governor Scott Walker announced on Thursday a funding deal for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in which taxpayers would shoulder $250 million of the proposed $500 million cost, according to an Associated Press report.
Under the plan, the team's current and former owners will put up the other $250 million and shoulder any additional expenses.
The Bucks' plans for a new 17,000-seat arena include a state-of-the-art practice facility and surrounding entertainment district that could drive the price of development to around $1 billion.
“We're incredibly thankful for the leadership and commitment of state, city and county officials to put together a viable financing framework for this public-private partnership to build a new sports and entertainment district in Wisconsin," Bucks president Peter Feigin said in a statement Thursday.
"While there is still a lot of work to be done in a short time frame, this is a big step forward in our collective effort to build a transformative economic and cultural asset in downtown Milwaukee. We will continue to work closely with our public partners to make sure this historic effort is successful.”
Relocating the team would cost the state a greater amount of revenue tax income than building a new arena, Walker said Thursday at a press conference, flanked by political leaders from both parties, including Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.
"This is a much better deal than most other projects like it around the country," Sen. Alberta Darling, a senate budget-writing committee member, told AP Thursday.
The proposed deal, which Walker and state legislators have spent the past weeks negotiating behind closed doors, still needs to be approved by lawmakers, some of whom have expressed a desire to prevent stadium funding from being drawn out of the state's $70 billion budget.
The NBA has said it will buy back the franchise and relocate it if the team doesn't have a new arena ready by the 2017 season. The league's warning comes despite the team's current arena, the 18,000-seat BMO Harris Bradley Center, receiving $3 million in renovations fewer than two years ago.
Walker originally proposed $220 million in borrowing to help with the cost of the arena, but that plan could also cost taxpayers around $80 million. A new plan calls for taxpayers to fork over $400 million for the facility when adjusted for interest over the next 20 years.
Walker said earlier this year that the Wisconsin's "jock tax" could cover the debt payments of $220 million on state-issued bonds for a new arena.
The tax is expected to bring in $15 million in 2015, but over the next few years that number is expected to increase dramatically because of additional revenue from the NBA’s new nine-year television deal worth $2.66 billion per season that will take effect in 2016-17.
- Scooby Axson and Will Green