For the arena project the state would borrow $220 million, which would be paid for with future growth of the income taxes paid by NBA players to the state, under a plan unveiled Tuesday by Walker. NBA players currently pay about $6.5 million a year to the state in income taxes. That amount of tax revenue would continue to be used for the state’s general budget purposes, but future growth in tax revenue from NBA players above and beyond $6.5 million would be used to pay for the arena borrowing.
“We’re going to help the Milwaukee Bucks pay their own way to a new arena,” Walker said.
“(Tuesday) we took a step forward in funding a new arena for the Bucks,” Barrett said on Twitter. “Allowing the players to pay their own way is a win-win for all involved.”
The NBA says a new arena is needed for the Bucks to stay in Milwaukee beyond 2017. The new owners of the Bucks, and former owner Herb Kohl, have pledged about $250 million toward the project.
Barrett said he appreciates Walker’s funding proposal for the arena.
“The announcement…by the governor was clearly a significant step forward in meeting the goal of many people of creating a new home not only for the Milwaukee Bucks, but for a new entertainment center for southeastern Wisconsin,” Barrett said. “I appreciate the governor’s actions on this. As I listen to what he said, it was clear to me he was making the case to the entire state and the entire state Legislature as to why this was good the state. I agree with his analysis.”
The state Legislature will review Walker’s arena funding plan, which will be part of his budget proposal. Some legislators may want the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to contribute to the arena project.
“It’s important to note that in order for the state to be a partner in this endeavor, we would expect the city and county to be part of the equation as well,” said state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
Barrett said the city is open to being a partner in the project.
“I’ve already had conversations with the Bucks’ ownership team,” Barrett said. “I anticipate we will have more conversations with them on how the city will partner as well. I anticipate the city will be a partner…we want to make sure this happens.”
The city invested $35 million in infrastructure improvements when the Bradley Center was built in 1988, Barrett said.
“A lot of those costs are still there,” he said.
The Bucks have not announced where they want to build the arena, though many expect they will choose a site north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The site selection will impact what role the city and county will play in the project, Barrett said.
“I have met with the Bucks’ ownership many times and they are trying to work through a lot of the issues on their end,” he said. “The foremost issue being the site. What the city does or what the county does will be dependent in large part on the site. If there is one site there may be some things we do and if there is a different site there will be other things we do. That is a conversation we are anxious to have with the Bucks’ ownership because we want this to move forward and we want to make sure this gets built.”