Jeramey Jannene

Pro-Ballpark Funding Coalition Launched

Home Crew Coalition backing $290 million state subsidy for Milwaukee Brewers stadium.

By - Mar 8th, 2023 08:30 am
American Family Field. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

American Family Field. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Governor Tony Evers have a new ally in their quest to allocate $290 million of the state’s budget surplus to fund improvements to American Family Field.

The Home Crew Coalition was launched Wednesday. Led by restauranteur and coalition chair Omar Shaikh, the organization supports a “solution to keep Major League Baseball in Wisconsin for the next generation.”

Other coalition members include VISIT Milwaukee CEO Peggy Williams-Smith, former Republican Party leader and retired Bradley Foundation CEO Michael Grebe, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters political director Andrew Disch, NAIOP Wisconsin leader Jim Villa, Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin head Tracy Johnson, former Republican legislator and collegiate summer league team owner Dan Kapanke, Prevea Health CEO Ashok Rai and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers CEO Rob Zerjav.

“The Milwaukee Brewers are a point of pride for Wisconsin and it’s important that we do what is needed to ensure Major League Baseball is preserved in our state for the next generation,” said Shaikh in a press release. “Generating thousands of jobs and billions in direct spending, it’s important that we recognize the massive economic impact the team and the ballpark have on our state. Through our collective efforts, the Home Crew Coalition aims to deliver that message statewide and ensure the Brewers can call American Family Field their home for years to come.”

Evers, through his 2023-2025 budget proposal, called for allocating $290 million from the state’s surplus to stadium improvements in exchange for the team extending its lease from 2030 to 2043.

But the nature of Evers’ announcement drew immediate flak from the leaders of the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature.

“When the Bucks had a similar situation, Democrats and Republicans worked together to find a solution on the best path forward. Instead, Governor Evers drops this bomb in the budget, never mentioning or attempting to collaborate with the Legislature in any way,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in a tweet. “These are typical antics for him not being a leader but rather dictating exactly what to do and how to do it. Governor Evers’ style makes it difficult to generate consensus. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to insure [sic] that the Brewers stay in WI.”

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu also issued a statement undercutting Evers: “The legislature will write the budget and we will work with our colleagues throughout the state to explore our options and build a budget that makes sense for everyone in Wisconsin,” he said. LeMahieu called Evers’ budget “just an idea.”

The money, as Evers proposed, would be paired with $70 million left over from the stadium sales tax and grow with interest to cover $448 million in stadium work.

The new coalition is not formally affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers and is instead an initiative of Wisconsin Small Businesses United. The 501(c)(4) lobbying group advocates for “improving the Wisconsin economic climate for its residents and its small businesses.” The organization is led by longtime lobbyist and Republican strategist Brandon Scholz.

The organization’s funding sources were not disclosed.

In 2020, the last publicly available year for which the small business group filed a 990 form, it reported $150,000 in revenue. The organization pursued a claim to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2020 in an attempt to limit the governor’s partial budget veto power, but the case was denied by the court.

Wisconsin Small Businesses United also was among dozens of right-leaning organizations in 2019 to receive a settlement after being targeted for scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.

See our past coverage for details on what the Brewers intend to spend the money on, how the size of the subsidy compares to other stadiums and why Republicans are averse to using a sales tax for the ballpark. The stadium, initially funded by a five-county sales tax, opened in 2001.

The Home Crew Coalition has a limited website that encourages people to pledge their support.

Categories: Real Estate, Weekly

One thought on “Pro-Ballpark Funding Coalition Launched”

  1. tornado75 says:

    i ‘wish the point of pride’ extended to our wonderful women, our poorly housed people, our mentally ill homeless etc. etc.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us