Common Ground Southeastern Wisconsin
Press Release

Common Ground Rallies for FAIR PLAY

If the Bucks get a great place to play, then our kids get great places to play.

By - Apr 8th, 2014 11:46 am

“We have never had a senior football player not graduate. If you want kids to graduate and be successful citizens, just have them play sports.”  When Hamilton High School football coach Jake Haskell said this to over 500 Common Ground leaders Tuesday night, their resolve to fight for better recreational and sports facilities was confirmed.  “If we want to make sure more kids graduate, we need facilities that will attract kids. The more kids we attract, the more kids graduate, and the more successful the community is.”

Hamilton’s gymnasium was overflowing with citizens from throughout the metropolitan area who were there to support FAIR PLAY, Common Ground’s campaign to secure funding to upgrade playgrounds, athletic facilities, and parks in Milwaukee County.  Following a survey of 278 public schools in Milwaukee County, the group concluded that $150 million to $250 million is needed to bring all facilities up to an acceptable level.

Franz Meyer, Milwaukee educator and co-chair of the event, explained that participation in track had taught him how to win and lose, how to plan, and how to work for years toward a goal.  “I’m here because I want the same fair play for my students that I had.”

Lloyd Johnson, the other co-chair, stressed the importance of giving children the message that they are at least as valuable to the community as a new Bucks arena.  “We can do that,” he said, “by investing in recreational and athletic facilities that allow them to develop their abilities and believe in their future.”

After hearing from coaches, athletes, and other leaders, the members of Common Ground were asked to vote on a resolution to support public funding for a New Bucks Arena if there is a $150 to $250 million investment in Fair Play and to oppose it if a $150 to $250 million investment in Fair Play is not included.  Jennifer O’Hear, chair of the Fair Play campaign, told the group, “We need to take this vote to be clear and pubic about our position.  We do not oppose the new arena.  We simply demand a say in how our money is used, and that means investing in our children through Fair Play.”

After deliberation, the assembly approved the motion by an overwhelming majority, and in addition, pledged to bring 1000 people to a rally at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 19.

Franz Meyer concluded the evening with these words: If you want a city where our kids will grow and stay Then we need to invest in a different way. Skyscrapers, Monuments, and Millionaires are nice But if you think that’s all “world class” means, think twice. We believe “world class” is Homes, Health, and School that go all the way Now, THAT’S FAIR PLAY!

ABOUT FAIR PLAY:  Fair Play is Common Ground’s campaign to insert itself in the discussion about the use of public funds to build a new arena for the Bucks. It is our position that if public money is used to create a new arena for the Bucks, then at least $150–$250 million must be invested to upgrade and build public athletic facilities and playgrounds for children in Milwaukee County. If the Bucks get a great place to play, then our kids get great places to play.

ABOUT COMMON GROUND: CG is a community organization that works toward igniting positive change within the Greater Milwaukee area. With the power of the collective voice, we have a strong history of facilitating significant and meaningful improvements within our community. By working together, we develop leaders who identify issues that need fixing, develop solutions for them, and take action to create change.

For more information on Common Ground or the Fair Play campaign, please visit or

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One thought on “Common Ground Rallies for FAIR PLAY”

  1. East Slider says:

    I’m not at all a big supporter of a publicly financed arena, I’m really hoping that something comes out of the private sector to cover all or at least more than half of the cost and then I MIGHT be swayed to support it, I don’t like the whole concept where the NBA can pretty much hold a city hostage by saying that is you don’t get a new arena by 20xx, we’re going to yank your franchise and how because other cities have fallen into the trap of being forced to publicly finance their new arenas, so now every city must follow suit, unless they’re lucky enough to have a multi-billionaire owner that will finance it himself. Now, as if being put into a hostage situation by the NBA isn’t annoying enough, we’ve got these guys coming out of nowhere and demanding their share as well, what gives?? I do think it is a benefit in many ways, going far beyond the tangible direct benefits and extending into things like keeping a city like Milwaukee, which used to have a much higher rank in metro area population back in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s but has now been passed up by a lot of other metros and is now one of the smallest markets for both baseball and basketball, so having major league franchises in both sports does give us a nice bit of “big city cred”. There are many other indirect benefits as well.

    The more I read in this article though, the more I found it almost hard to believe, it wasn’t one of those articles that makes you think it could easily be an Onion article, it was more of a growing astonishment of what they were proposing and what they were demanding. Yes, providing our kids with high quality playgrounds and athletic facilities is a good idea, yes we need to encourage more physical activity for a rather sedentary population and participating in athletic activities and organized sports have many benefits for kids, like learning team work, etc. there are many different benefits. OK, so that’s all well and good but at the same time, how high is this on the overall list of priorities for the metro area? Take a drive through the inner city and look at all the different causes you could spend more money on, where poverty is rampant and jobs are scarce and then how important do first class playgrounds sound? What about the recent report about how our county bus system, which is pretty good at getting people from point A to point B in the urbanized areas of the county, does absolutely nothing as far as getting someone from the inner city where jobs are so scarce, out to one of the many huge suburban industrial parks where many companies are always looking for help. How much good could $150 million do to fix that problem? First class playgrounds look more and more like a want than a need when you start thinking about things like that. (of course, that $100++ MILLION they’re all gung ho on blowing on a trolley that will run in circles around downtown and the 3rd Ward, going nowhere the bus doesn’t already go, that money would go a long way to connecting the inner cities to where the jobs are, but that’s another subject now isn’t it!)

    Then there’s the amount of money involved, $150 to $250 MILLION??? A quarter of a BILLION DOLLARS for nice playgrounds??? Maybe they figure by throwing out these astronomical sums, they’ll have a better shot of getting tossed $20 million in the end to make them happy and then they’re $20 million ahead of where they started! Give me $20 million and I’ll build you a hell of a lot of really nice playgrounds!

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