On Tuesday morning, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker announced his support for a redistribution of a "jock tax" that would create as much as $220 million dollars to help pay for the construction of a new downtown Milwaukee arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The proposal, which will be in Walker's budget that he submits to the state legislature on February 3, involves taking the income tax from NBA players playing in Milwaukee, both for the Bucks and for visiting teams, and sending it to pay for the bonds that would be used to pay for the arena. According to Walker and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the state currently brings in $9.3 million dollars per year from the tax, which is obviously money that would be lost completely if the team were to leave town due to the lack of construction of a new arena.
That $9.3 million is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years, as the NBA has a new television contract with ESPN and Turner Sports that will cause the salary cap to increase. As the cap increases, player salaries increase, and thus, so does the income tax collected from each individual player. The ultimate benefit to this plan is that it only takes money that's created by having the Bucks in the state and does not tax any other Wisconsin resident on any level.
When the Bucks were sold by former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl to Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, both sides of the transaction committed $100 million towards the construction of a new arena. The new Bucks owners took on Jamie Dinan as a partner in their ownership, which has boosted their side's contribution up to $150 million. That means a private investment of $250 million is already on the table in addition to the $220 million that Walker expects to be created by having the NBA continue to have a franchise in Milwaukee for a total of $470 million. Excluding the insanely expensive Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Amway Arena in Orlando is the most recently opened NBA arena, and that building cost $480 million to construct in 2008.
A new downtown arena benefits Marquette on multiple fronts. First, President Lovell has already said that if a new arena were to be built, Marquette would want to play their men's basketball games in that arena. Second of all, a new arena would assist Marquette in selling a ticket or two as a new arena would theoretically be a much improved fan experience relative to the Bradley Center. Third, and this is probably the most important part, it will allow the Bucks to remain in Milwaukee. The Al McGuire Center is already used by a number of NBA teams as their facility for a morning shoot around when they play a road game against the Bucks, and this allows Marquette's players to have a bit of interaction with their favorite NBA players. That interaction is a selling point for Steve Wojciechowski and his assistants on the recruiting trail, not to mention selling high school players on the idea of playing in the same building as Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.