Study validates economic impact of Miller Park

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:17 pm

During the heat of the debate prior to the decision to levy a 0.1-percent regional sales tax to help defray the costs of the construction of Miller Park, proponents of the new ballpark argued that it would be a regional attraction that would generate a net gain in economic impact.

More than a decade later, Miller Park has exceeded all economic expectations, according to a new study that was commissioned by Major League Baseball.

The study, “Miller Park – Impact After 10 Years;” was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Institute for Survey and Policy Research. The report was recently delivered to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board of Directors.

According to the report, the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park added between $300 million and $350 million to the regional economy in each year of the past decade, generating a cumulative economic impact of more than $3 billion.

“This also translates into added employment and added payment of sales taxes, income taxes and added economic growth in our region. Construction of the ballpark in the Menomonee Valley has helped create new roads and other infrastructure investments that have helped open up the west end of the valley to new businesses and industry,” said Don Smiley, president of Summerfest and chairman of the stadium district board. “The Brewers annual series with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins consistently brings many of their respective fans to our region; occupying local hotels, and supporting local restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues. Our parking lots are filled throughout the season with cars and buses from throughout the state and the Midwest. Baseball fans come to Milwaukee for several days at a time, because they know the games in our beautiful Miller Park, with its retractable roof, will start on time and can be enjoyed in comfort.”

Major League Baseball intends to use the study to show Miller Park as a model for other markets that will need new stadiums, according to Lori Richards, vice president at Mueller Communications, which represents MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s office.

The economic impact of the Brewers and Miller Park has exceeded the expectations of Robert Leib, owner of Mequon-based Leib Advisors. In 1995, Leib was commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee to project the economic impact a new ballpark would have on the region.

“The spending and related sales tax that goes on at Miller Park and the region have exceeded the original projections back in 1995,” Leib said. “It’s the intangible benefits of enjoying a ballgame without fear of bad weather, watching a competitive club that’s gained national attention and see the thrill of my kids watching Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder hit a home run that exceeds any expectations that those who were involved in the stadium debate and financing had at the time.”

Brian Mayhew, associate professor of accounting and information services at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, reviewed the study and concurred.

“The use of this data increases our confidence in the outside economic contribution. This is a real effect and not just a substitution of the Brewers for some other form of entertainment,” Mayhew said. “It exceeds expectations. The magnitude of the out of the five-county effect is much bigger than one would expect. I can also say personally that my decision to attend a game coming from Madison is enhanced because I know it will be in a dome and weather will not be an issue…My trips to see the Brewers do not substitute for other trips I would make to Milwaukee. If anything, I visit other venues in Milwaukee as part of my Brewer game experience.”

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