Evers doles out ARPA money for Iron District soccer stadium, Bronzeville Center for the Arts

Rendering of the Iron District soccer stadium. Credit: Kahler Slater, JLG Architects

Last updated on November 3rd, 2023 at 01:41 pm

Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday that he plans to use $14.3 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for the soccer stadium planned in the downtown Milwaukee Iron District development and for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts planned for the city’s Bronzeville district.

They are two of five projects in the state that Evers announced today will receive a total of $36 million in ARPA funds. ARPA is a $1.9 trillion federal COVID economic relief stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.

Evers said he is allocating $9.3 in ARPA funds for the $45 million, 8,000-seat soccer stadium planned at the 11-acre, $220 million mixed-use Iron District development northeast of the Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee.

The Iron District is being developed Kenosha-based developer Bear Development and with Grafton-based Kacmarcik Enterprises. The soccer stadium will serve as the home for Milwaukee Pro Soccer, a USL Championship franchise that could begin play in 2025, according to the district’s website.

The development also includes affordable apartments, 99 of which are currently under construction, a 203-room hotel, and a connected events venue to serve the hotel and host live music.

“We want to thank Gov. Tony Evers and his administration for believing in our vision and this project,” said Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and CEO of Kacmarcik Enterprises. “Milwaukee and Wisconsin are hungry for professional soccer, which is evident by the more than 200,000 votes that were cast for our name the team competition. Having the backing of the Governor’s office and the state will provide important momentum for bringing the Iron District Milwaukee to fruition and delivering a catalytic development.”

Evers also announced plans today to allocate $5 million in ARPA funding for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts, a $55 million Black arts and cultural facility planned for the site of the former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources office at 2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district.

“We are grateful to Governor Evers for his continued support of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts and our vision for a destination arts museum that increases our collective knowledge of and engagement with African American art, art history and artists,” said Kristen Hardy, chair of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts, in a statement. “As we continue the design process and evaluate community feedback, this announcement is a major step toward making our vision a reality.”

Earlier this year, Evers proposed $9.3 in funding for the stadium and $5 million in funding for the 40,000-square-foot Bronzeville Center for the Arts as part of his 2023-25 capital budget, but were rejected by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Evers on Thursday also announced $15 million in ARPA funds for the Janesville Sports and Convention Center, $7 million for the Green Bay National Railroad Museum expansion and $330,000 for the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre upgrades.

Currently in Wisconsin, the governor largely has the power to control how federal funds sent to the state are spent. Last year, Republicans in the legislature introduced a constitutional amendment to clip the governor’s control and give the legislature broad control over the spending of federal funds, but that amendment still needs to win a majority vote at the ballot box.

Bronzeville Center for the Arts (Rendering: Wilson & Ford Design Studios)
Hunter covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. He previously wrote for the Waukesha Freeman and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee, with a degree in journalism and urban studies, he was news editor of the UWM Post. He has received awards from the Milwaukee Press Club and Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Hunter likes cooking, gardening and 2000s girly pop.

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