MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers announced a new plan Tuesday to keep the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin for the next 20 years.

The move came as the governor prepared to deliver his biennial budget proposal to lawmakers Wednesday night.

Gov. Evers plans to ask lawmakers to approve a one-time investment of $290 million using the state’s historic surplus, which is currently estimated to total nearly $7 billion.

What You Need To Know

  • As part of his budget proposal, Gov. Evers plans to call for a one-time investment of $290 million for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District

  • The funds would be used to help the ballpark district maintain and improve American Family Field as required by an agreement with the team

  • Currently, the Milwaukee Brewers and American Family Field have a lease agreement that expires after the 2030 season

  • Under the governor’s proposal, the Brewers would commit to a 20-year lease, and Major League Baseball would stay in Wisconsin through Dec. 2043

“I’ve been watching baseball in Milwaukee since the County Stadium days when I had the chance of a lifetime to watch Warren Spahn’s 300th-career game there way back when,” Gov. Evers said. “As governor, and also someone who also happens to be a lifelong Brewers fan, I’m so excited about the historic opportunity we have today to keep Major League Baseball here in Milwaukee for another twenty years and to usher in a new generation of Brewers fans in Wisconsin who can grow up rooting for the home team just like I did.”

The money would go to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, which is responsible for maintaining and managing operations at American Family Field. Under an agreement with the team, the ballpark district is contractually obligated to repair and improve the facilities.

Workers install an American Family Field sign Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Milwaukee. The sign replaces the Miller Park sign after American Family bought the naming rights to the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

“The Milwaukee Brewers are committed to working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to extend the life of American Family Field and help make Major League Baseball possible in Wisconsin for the next generation,” Rick Schlesinger, president of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, said. “This will require creative solutions that garner bipartisan support. We oppose the return of the five-county tax, and we are prepared to commit to a lease extension for the Brewers to remain at American Family Field through at least 2043.”

However, the ballpark district currently lacks the resources to meet their obligations partly because of the elimination of the five-county sales tax in March 2020, as well as expensive repairs due to the aging facility.

The current lease between the Milwaukee Brewers and American Family Field runs through the 2030 season, but Gov. Evers is worried that could change without an investment from the state.

“We are not asking for the Stadium District to take on new financial obligations under the lease, or for a new ballpark — just the resources to make sure the Stadium District’s existing obligations are met,” Schlesinger continued. “As we said when the Stadium District’s funding shortfall first became known, we have remained focused on gathering facts and information that everyone can rely upon through a full capital needs assessment.”

A general view of American Family Field is seen before an Opening Day baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Minnesota Twins Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

According to a study in 2020 by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, the ballpark has contributed $2.5 billion in direct statewide impact since opening its doors in 2001.

The stadium has also contributed millions of dollars annually in net new tax revenue for Wisconsin, and in 2022 alone, the ballpark supported 3,000 jobs.

“What’s more, the Brewers are not only a cherished part of our state’s heritage but an essential part of Milwaukee’s and our state’s economic success,” Gov. Evers continued. “Using just a small portion of our state’s historic surplus, we can not only save over $200 million in taxpayer dollars in the long run, but keep good-paying, family-supporting jobs here and ensure the Brewers remain in Milwaukee and continue to play a critical role in our state’s economic success for another two decades.”

Fans tailgate outside American Family Field before the Milwaukee Brewers home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Unlike other Major League Baseball facilities, maintenance of Milwaukee’s ballpark is more critical because it depends on generating ticket sales as the smallest market, as defined by the MLB.

“American Family Field has had a $2.5 billion statewide economic impact, created thousands of jobs, and made it possible for a team in a small market like Milwaukee to compete,” Schlesinger added. “We thank Gov. Evers and the Legislature for their consideration of this issue as we work with them, the Stadium District, and all key stakeholders on next steps.” 

Evers proposal would use cash for the investment, rather than long-term bonding. By using the projected state surplus, it is estimated taxpayers would save more than $200 million over the course of the Brewers’ lease. During the next two decades, nearly $400 million in revenue is also projected to be generated.

If lawmakers ultimately approve the investment, it will ensure the Brewers commit to a 20-year lease and Major League Baseball remains in Wisconsin through Dec. 2043.