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.
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.
> 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.
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