MILWAUKEE, WI -- The stadium subsidy debate is premised on a fallacy – that the Brewers will pick up and leave town if the Legislature doesn’t buckle to their extortionary demands. This fallacy was reiterated by Senator Feyen on UpFront this weekend, “It’s great that the Brewers are willing to stay here. They could have just said, ‘2030, we’re going to be done.’”
The Brewers aren’t leaving in 2030 or ever. The negotiations should begin anew with the leverage this realization provides.
- Relocation happens at most once a generation, but MLB extortion is constant. The Oakland A’s are currently in the middle of relocating to Las Vegas – a huge tourist destination. Before this, the most recent relocation to occur in MLB was the Montreal Expos move to Washington D.C. in 2005. Before that – the Senators to Arlington in 1971.
- Wisconsin voters aren’t the only ones currently being extorted – check out what owners in Baltimore, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay are demanding of their local taxpayers. All use the same tactics and potential relocation markets to bolster their demands.
- Brewers’ attendance ranks 15th of all 30 teams. While we are described as a “small market” team, but our attendance outpulls large market teams such as the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers – and 13 other teams.
- Our fan base is loyal. Although owner Mark Attanasio has never produced a World Series appearance, Brewers fans continue to attend games in droves. His investment in the team has born a 7x return. It’s nonsense to believe he would risk his golden goose on an unproven market elsewhere. Take Attanasio at his word when he says “I’ve never considered going anywhere else,” with the team.
- Potential stalking horse markets are not attractive. Let’s be clear - Nashville and Charlotte are well defined Braves markets and have been for generations. MLB isn’t in the business of cannibalizing its own teams. To allow expansion, the MLB owners need to vote on approval. The Braves, Cardinals, and National’s owners aren’t going to allow a Nashville team.
- Federal legislation could end MLB’s extortion tactics. The State should ask its federal delegation to advance laws that end the League’s ability to bully taxpayers into subsidizing billionaire owners. MLB enjoys a special anti-trust status under federal law – which could be used as leverage to end their extortionary tactics.
- Reminder: Taxpayers hate the idea of a tax subsidy. Only 29% of polled voters support tax money being used to subsidize the stadium. 68% of Republicans and 72% of Democrats think other priorities should be funded ahead of the stadium. On a 10-1 margin, voters believe Attanasio is better positioned to pay for the stadium than taxpayers. And on a 5-1 margin, voters will be less inclined to support politicians who vote for the subsidy. After your vote, the Brewers won’t ride to your rescue – just ask George Petak.
-- Dan Adams, Director, Milwaukee Works, Inc.