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Friday, February 23, 2024

Negotiations on Bucks arena continue amid new polls

As the Milwaukee Bucks attempt to stave off elimination from the NBA Playoffs, lawmakers have begun negotiations over a new arena that would keep the team in the state.

State, county and city leaders met last week to discuss funding as new polling data shows Wisconsinites are torn over committing state money to the project.

A poll released Monday by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, one of the biggest supporters of the arena, said 64 percent of voters supported the state using $150 million to fund the project. These results are in stark contrast to a Marquette University Law School poll released April 16 that found 79 percent of voters were against the proposal.

The new data comes on the heels of meetings last week between state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

While the talks did not produce any tangible results, Vos said they were still productive.

“We had a continuation of good meetings, trying to put ideas on the table,” Vos told the Milwaukee Business Journal Thursday. “I wouldn’t say anything new was brought up today but it’s just continuing to have a discussion.”

The Bucks and former owner Herb Kohl have pledged half of the estimated $500 million cost with the rest of the money expected to come from an income tax levied against visiting NBA players, as well as from state, county and city coffers.

Fitzgerald has called Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to have the state use $220 million in bonds to fund the deal “pretty much dead.” He is instead pushing his own plan to have the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands loan $150 million to Milwaukee County to cover costs.

While there is no timetable on finalizing a deal, Bucks co-owner Wes Edens is optimistic a compromise will be reached soon.

“I think [the talks are] very constructive," Edens told the Milwaukee Business Journal Friday after the Bucks’ first home playoff game in two years. "Nothing specific, but [a deal is] going to come soon I think. I feel really good about it.”

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