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Green Bay’s No.1 — in taxpayers paying for sports stadiums

By   /   February 1, 2013  /   1 Comment

MADISON – Congratulations, Green Bay!

Your beloved Packers failed to make the Big Game this season, but all is not lost. Your city is the Super Bowl champ in taxpayer-subsidized sports stadiums per capita. And while that statistic doesn’t attract the signing bonus that Aaron Rodger’s touchdown passes might, fans can take solace that they helped support the team, even if they didn’t pay to become shareholders.

 

Green Bay’s storied Lambeau Field. The region is ranked No. 1 per capita in taxpayer subsidies to the NFL stadium.

24/7 Wall Street, an online site providing commentary and analysis on the business world, published a Top 10 list of taxpayer-subsidized sports stadiums.  Two Wisconsin cities – the only two Wisconsin cities with professional sports teams – made the list.

From 24/7 Wall Street:

1. Green Bay
> Public per capita stadium cost: $1,114
> Population: 309,469 (152nd largest)
> Number of major league teams: 1
> Number of stadiums: 1

Green Bay has only one professional sports team, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers play in Lambeau Field, which was originally built in 1957. The 2003 renovation of the stadium cost $411 million, of which $241 million, or 59 percent, was paid by taxpayers. With ongoing costs included, the price tag for taxpayers on the renovation rose to $334 million through 2010. To pay for these renovations, Brown County taxpayers approved a half-cent sales tax, while ticket holders were charged a one-time seat user fee by the city, the team and the NFL. In 2011, the team issued stock shares that have allowed it to pay for further improvements to Lambeau Field.

5. Milwaukee
> Public per capita stadium cost: $468
> Population: 1,562,216 (39th largest)
> Number of major league teams: 2
> Number of stadiums: 2

Milwaukee has two major professional sports stadiums. The BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks play, was built in 1988 with largely private funding. The city’s Major League Baseball stadium, Miller Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers play, was completed in 2001, mostly with taxpayer money. Through 2010, the stadium had cost taxpayers $681 million — more than any other stadium in baseball. In 2004, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson accused former owner and now baseball commissioner Bud Selig of misrepresenting the team’s finances in order to receive public funds for the stadium. Currently, Milwaukee is again debating building a new publicly financed sports facility, this time for the Bucks.

Selig, though, might say Thompson was way off base, as he recently defended sports stadiums subsidies to Wisconsin Reporter.

Contact the author atrekvall@wisconsinreporter.com

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.

  • Craig Richards

    “Your” beloved Packers????