Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin approved $250 million in public financing for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team on Wednesday, a deal exposing him to charges of corporate welfare as he seeks the Republican nomination as a fiscal conservative. … The owners of the National Basketball Association team, who include hedge fund managers in New York and a top fund-raiser for Mr. Walker’s presidential campaign, had threatened to leave the state without public funding for a new stadium. … The Bucks owners said a new arena, needed to attract fans, would cost $500 million. Former Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, a Democrat who was the team’s previous owner, agreed to contribute $100 million. The new owners, led by Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, who run hedge funds in New York, will pay $150 million. Taxpayers will kick in $250 million.
Scott Walker’s crony capitalism
Source: Paul Waldman, Washington Post, August 12, 2015
Gov. Scott Walker signed the Milwaukee Bucks arena funding bill Wednesday morning at the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park. The legislation commits $250 million in public money to the team’s new arena over the next 20 years. … That $250 million that taxpayers will be spending for the benefit of a single private enterprise just happens to be the same amount that Walker succeeded in cutting from the state’s university system this year. And an interesting sidelight to the story is that one of the Bucks owners, Jon Hammes, is a national finance co-chairman of Walker’s campaign and has given $150,000 to a Walker super PAC. … And Walker’s justification — that ponying up for the stadium will be worth it because of the economic impact — has been disproven by just about every analysis of stadium financing. When taxpayers put out hundreds of millions of dollars for shiny new stadiums, they don’t make back the money in increased tax revenue. If you want to argue that it’s worth paying for solely because people love sports even if it costs taxpayers a great deal, then go ahead and make that argument. But no politician does.