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The Latest: Bucks Arena Update 7/9/2015

Update: July 10, 2015 1:31 PM – Alderman Robert J. Bauman will host town hall meeting on Tuesday, July 14 at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall from 6-8 PM. Mayor Tom Barrett will deliver presentation on proposal for the new arena (via Dan Shafer of Milwaukee Magazine).

Not too much to update on today besides the announcement of when the State Senate vote may come.

Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the State Majority Leader, has told his Senators to plan on their being a vote on the Bucks arena bill next Wednesday, July 15, according to WKOW 27 News’ Greg Neumann. Included in the report is that the State Assembly will NOT be in on Wednesday, but Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos could call them in for a vote as early as Thursday if it passes in the Senate on Wednesday. The fact that a vote is imminent shows progress, but there is not a lot of time to secure the votes needed. Still, Fitzgerald would not schedule a vote if he did not think he could get the votes to pass the bill. A public hearing could also be scheduled prior to the vote to gain more opinions, although a lot of calls, emails, and letters have been received by the legislators.

Additionally, Majority Leader Jim Steineke said on Twitter that the Assembly will only vote once they have the 15 Democrats necessary to make a majority to vote yes to the bill to pair with the 36 Republicans who have indicated yes in the State Assembly (there are 99 representatives in the State Assembly). There could be more Republicans who vote yes anyway, but bipartisan support is important.

With the 2017 deadline approaching to have a new arena built, getting this voted on and done, if it’s going to happen, needs to happen quickly. The arena project needs to be started by this fall in order to be completed in time for November 2017 and the 2017-18 season.

Senator Lena Taylor (Democrat – Milwaukee), who remains to be the most important vote, seems to still be undecided and has said she supports keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee, just not the bill its current form. Senator Taylor will be on the Bill Michaels Show tomorrow at 12:06 PM and you can listen to Michaels’ show on 105.7 FM in Milwaukee and 106.7 FM/1670 AM in Madison. I would recommend listening to what she has to say, especially in strategizing your calls to her office. Her office’s phone number is 414-342-7176 (local) or 608-266-5810 (Madison).

The bill in its current form may not pass, but with some amendments and changes, local insiders feel the deal will get done. I emailed back-and-forth with The Big 920 and longtime Milwaukee sports radio contributor Mitch “Thunder” Nelles. I thought he summed up what’s going on very well: “The politicians continue to spin their wheels in Madison and throughout the state. I have to think, at the end of the day, the arena bill will pass. But I have no idea what it will look like – if there will be a ticket fee added to it – but I just can’t imagine our partisan politicians are so short-sighted that they will let a multi-million dollar business leave the state.”

Nelles is right-on on with his point that the politicians can’t be too “short-sighted” to let the Bucks walk away based on the business they bring and will continue to bring to the state. The value of NBA franchises has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Look at this chart put together by Business Insider/Forbes:

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Again, as I have stated before, having one of 30 NBA franchises is a privilege for the community. These teams are extremely profitable for the city and state through tax revenues and overall economic development, especially with the plans for the surrounding area of the Milwaukee arena and the NBA salary cap continuing to rise.

In the end, what’s going on is just politics. The Democrats are upset the public was left out of the arena bill’s formation and do not love some of the provisions in the state budget that were passed this week, especially the UW system’s budget cuts. The arena bill itself is favorable to both parties, but the political moves being made do not come as a surprise with the timing of the bill.

There’s not much we can do besides continuing to call legislators. With only five days leading up to the potential Senate vote, this is the most crucial time to make sure your local leaders know how you feel about the arena.

Click here for SaveOurBucks.com’s update from Thursday. 

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