Potawatomi Gives $10 Million To Streetcar
Streetcar will be known as The Hop; Potawatomi gift means no operation costs for city.
The Milwaukee Streetcar is no longer a political punching bag thanks to Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. The casino will contribute $10 million over 12 years to support the operation of the Milwaukee Streetcar, which will also get a new name as part of the deal. The streetcar, which will now be known as “The Hop, presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino,” will receive the new branding in early 2018.
The announcement, kept under tight wraps, was unveiled by Mayor Tom Barrett in an afternoon ceremony at the Milwaukee Public Market. And while project opponents will continue to call the project Tom’s Trolley, the mayor was quick to address project criticism. “Why are we doing this? Because the streetcar promotes economic development that benefits everyone.”
The Mayor praised Potawatomi Hotel & Casino CEO Rodney Ferguson as “instrumental in working with us to get where we are today.” Ferguson echoed the mayor’s remarks around the project, noting “we are extremely confident the streetcar will serve as a catalyst for economic development here and throughout the region.”
Part of Forest County Potawatomi’s contribution will go to fund free rides in the first year of operation for The Hop, a cost estimated at $700,000. Additional support for the initial 36 months of operation will come from a federal grant the city has secured. The Potawatomi contribution ensures that the streetcar operations will have no budget impact until at least 2021.
Would Potawatomi like to see the streetcar extended to the casino? Yes, but Ferguson noted he didn’t know where that was in the plans and that their investment was more about being able to advertise to a downtown audience with what he characterized as “mobile billboards.” Ferguson noted “it brings more awareness to the casino.”
Why The Hop? Korban noted that he hopes the simple name, “The Hop, hop on, hop off,” will become a common phrase among those in the city. The commissioner explained that the name came after meeting with a diverse group of community stakeholders, all of whom noted the project should be branded something other than “The Milwaukee Streetcar.”
Joining the mayor and commissioner in attendance were council members Robert Bauman, Nik Kovac and Jose G. Perez. Bauman, a longtime streetcar supporter, was given the microphone to say a few words. The downtown alderman praised Potawatomi, noting that “Potawatomi Casino probably has the most diverse workforce in the City of Milwaukee.” The alderman went on to call Potawatomi a “strong corporate citizen” before adding this wry line of praise: “Forest County Potawatomi, despite their being a sovereign nation, is much easier to deal with than many private developers.”
Bauman went on to suggest the Potawatomi support should end the political fight around the project, saying “I suspect that once and for all the politics have left this project. There is nothing left to complain about.” While that may be a tad optimistic given the project’s past history, the project will now have no impact on the city budget for the next four years. The Potawatomi contribution eliminates the need for the city to fund two positions proposed in the 2018 budget for a streetcar project manager and streetcar safety manager.
Bauman noted that despite the council having to vote on the project multiple times since 2011, not a single streetcar proponent has been replaced by an anti-streetcar council member in the two elections held since. He called for the press releases, press conferences and failed recalls attacking the project to stop.
The initial phase of The Hop, which will connect the Lower East Side, East Town, the Historic Third Ward and Westown, is scheduled to begin operation in late 2018. An extension along E. Michigan and E. Clybourn streets to the lakefront is scheduled to begin operation in late 2019. Kiewet Infrastructure continues to lead the construction of the line across much of the route.
The city has entered into a maintenance and operation agreement with multinational conglomerate Transdev to operate the system at a cost of $3.6 million annually. The city will fund those costs through partnerships (including Potawatomi’s support), grants and farebox revenue, with additional funds coming from the city’s parking fund. In attendance at the ceremony was Transdev manager Darryl Simpson, who will lead the project locally.
The city is still negotiating final terms on the deal with Potawatomi. Korban stated that while Potawatomi’s contribution is significant, the city is still seeking additional sponsors.
Why Announce on a Friday Afternoon?
The deal was announced at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, a time traditionally used by politicians to dump bad news. Why release good news then? A likely-heated budget hearing is coming up on Monday evening, and the announcement takes the streetcar off the table as a punching bag. Opponents of the mayor’s budget will no longer be able to say the streetcar is why the proposed budget eliminates 75 firefighters and 33 police officers. The more obvious cause of the budget cuts were noted in a press scrum after the streetcar announcement, where the mayor reiterated his “Milwaukee dividend” campaign that illustrates how state shared revenue is increasingly shortchanging the city.
MCTS Collaboration Still Needed
Not discussed at the ceremony was the need for the city to make a deal with the Milwaukee County Transit System over the use of inter-operable farebox technology. While the streetcar continues to get lots of attention, both positive and negative, MCTS quietly provides over 140,000 rides every day using a fleet of approximately 440 buses. A successful future for both systems will require collaboration between the city and county.
For those looking to take mass transit to the casino today, including many of the complex’s 2,600 employees, route 14 of the Milwaukee County Transit System remains the only way to get there.
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More about the Milwaukee Streetcar
For more information on project details, how the operator will be selected, what the vehicles will be like, and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Potawatomi Gives $10 Million To Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 6th, 2017
- City and Potawatomi strike 12-year, $10 million streetcar presenting sponsorship agreement, includes free rides for the first 12 months - City of Milwaukee - Oct 6th, 2017
- How Streetcar Could Change King Drive - Elizabeth Baker - Oct 5th, 2017
- The Streetcar, Public Safety and Our Budget Crisis An Honest Assessment of Milwaukee’s Status Quo - Ald. Bob Donovan - Oct 4th, 2017
- Alderman Zielinski tells Mayor Barrett: Cut the streetcar, don’t cut protective services - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Sep 27th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Republicans Heap Hate On Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 7th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Chooses Streetcar Operator - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 6th, 2017
- Milwaukee Streetcar Construction on Target to Meet Residential Preference Program, DBE Goals - City of Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works - Jul 21st, 2017
- Friday Photos: Streetcar Tracks Getting Road Tested - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 30th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $30 Million Spent on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 19th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Getting Installed - Jeramey Jannene - May 12th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Gets Waiver on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 17th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Rails Being Welded - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 7th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Won’t Delay Streetcar for County - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 28th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Board Okays Bid for Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Steel Has Arrived - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 16th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Should County Operate Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 8th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Construction Starts in April - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 17th, 2017
- Streetsblog: 80 Transit Projects in 2017 - Angie Schmitt - Feb 6th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Project Receives Federal Grant - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 12th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Cincinnati Streetcar Opens - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Okays Streetcar to Bucks Arena - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 6th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 26th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Donovan Lies About Streetcar Suit - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: BID Sells Streetcar-Related Development - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: Do Millennials Oppose the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 15th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Pennsylvania Company Wins Streetcar Contract - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 13th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: City Accepts $14 Million Federal Streetcar Grant - Michael Horne - Oct 29th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies - Bruce Murphy - Aug 28th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Scott Walker Aids Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Construction Starts in October - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: The Strange Politics of Anti-Streetcar-ites - Bruce Murphy - Jun 18th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Bucks Plan Envisions Arena Streetcar - Michael Horne - Apr 8th, 2015
- A Short History of Milwaukee’s Old Streetcar System - Ken Smith - Mar 31st, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Davis Sets, Cancels Meeting on Streetcar - Michael Horne - Mar 17th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Drive Fails - Bruce Murphy - Mar 5th, 2015
- Friday Photos: Streetcar Signing Is Quite a Celebration - Michael Horne - Feb 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee Streetcar Approved - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who is “Lobbying” For the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Feb 5th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Will Streetcar Help The Inner City? - Bruce Thompson - Feb 4th, 2015
- Back in the News: City Attorney Says Streetcar Petitions Might be Moot - Bruce Murphy - Jan 30th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Millennials And The Streetcar - Bruce Thompson - Jan 27th, 2015
- Op-Ed: Why I Support the Streetcar - Russell Rossetto - Jan 26th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Responses Shows Wide Support - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Approved, but Held - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 21st, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who Is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Op Ed: Why the Streetcar Won’t Work - Samuel Jensen - Jan 14th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum - Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy - Jan 8th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Delays Streetcar Until January - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 16th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 10th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 9th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar - Michael Horne - Dec 2nd, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: How to Sell the Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 28th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Next Stops For The Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 24th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Moving Forward With Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 18th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Who Will Be Streetcar Operator? - Michael Horne - May 8th, 2014
- Back in the News: A Streetcar Named Cooperation? - Dave Reid - Apr 27th, 2014
- Streetsblog: How a Streetcar Spurs Development - Angie Schmitt - Nov 3rd, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Streetcar Social - Michael Horne - Sep 12th, 2013
- Republicans Move to Kill Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 9th, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Mayor Says Streetcar is “Trojan Horse” - Michael Horne - Apr 17th, 2013
- Streetcar Meeting on Tuesday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 29th, 2012
- Donovan’s New Anti-Streetcar Allies - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 16th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference - Jeramey Jannene - May 18th, 2012
- Milwaukee Streetcar Hearing at Frontier Airlines Center - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 15th, 2011
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings this Week - Dave Reid - Nov 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council, Proceeds to Final Engineering - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 26th, 2011
- Alderman Donovan Proposes Delaying the Streetcar Project - Dave Reid - Jul 19th, 2011
- Barrett says Streetcar is an investment in growing Milwaukee - Patti Wenzel - Jul 13th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward - Jeramey Jannene - May 6th, 2010
- Streetcars and Trams Around the World - Dave Reid - Feb 1st, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 5th, 2009
- Downtown Streetcar Open House - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 21st, 2009
- Common Council Creates Streetcar Committee - Dave Reid - Jun 18th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 19th, 2009
- Vote For Your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Map - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 21st, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee - Dave Reid - Mar 14th, 2009
- Palomar or Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2009