- Sports construction trumped politics on Wednesday as Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation to spend $250 million on a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Walker, a fiscal conservative, has taken heat for his decision from campaign donors and conservative supporters who have objected to spending taxpayer dollars to accommodate a team owned by a group of wealthy investors, including several Walker supporters and a top backer of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.
But Walker called the deal — which was a response to the team’s threat to move to another state if the arena’s funding were not approved — “just simple mathematics,” saying Wisconsin will reap a return on its investment of 3 to 1.
It’s not unusual for a state or a city to come to the financial rescue of a sports team that threatens to seek deeper pockets elsewhere unless government funds become available to replace an aging arena.
Aside from the jobs a major construction project like the Bucks’ new sports arena will create for local contractors and laborers, the team and its players will continue paying more than $6.5 million in taxes to the state each year, The Washington Post reported.
Plus, the investors who own the team have proposed developing the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown stadium with a new entertainment district that would drive the total project cost to approximately $500 million but create more jobs for locals and taxes for the state.
“If you’re a business owner... and one of your biggest customers says you’ve got to upgrade your facility or I’m going to take my business somewhere else, anybody who is smart in business is going to make sure they keep that business,” Walker said at a donor retreat earlier this month.