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Cheaper To Keep Them: Governor Scott Walker Unveils Milwaukee Arena Financing Plan

It's just a plan. It still has to be approved by the state legislature.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, along with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, introduced the plan to provide as much as $250 million in funding for a new downtown arena for the city of Milwaukee.

Here's the whole presser in case you missed it, via WTMJ:

The key component, which Walker hit right off the top and even had fastened to the front of the podium that he spoke from, is that it's cheaper for the state of Wisconsin to keep the Bucks than it is to pass on constructing an arena and therefore let the Bucks leave.  Between money from state coffers that must be spent to maintain the Bradley Center, income growth from no longer having an NBA franchise in the state, and what was titled "base revenue," Wisconsin stands to spend at least $419 million without the Milwaukee Bucks around.  In order to build a new arena for the Bucks (and Marquette, UFC, WWE, concerts, etc.), the state will only be paying out $80 million.

Pretty simple math, right?

Here's the breakdown on how all of that works, via WTMJ's Twitter:

The problem is, however, that even with this carefully laid out explanation of 1) where the money is coming from and 2) how much money the state is on the hook for if the Bucks were to leave, not all of the state senators and assemblymen are in favor of this.  Milwaukee Business Journal spoke to one senator and one assemblyman who were willing to go on the record, and both of them were dead set against funding the arena, even though it's clearly not in the best interest of their constituents.

The one thing I still need explained to me is how this arrangement is better than Walker's original plan.  You'll remember that the originally proposed idea was to take the increases in the so-called "jock tax" that will be created by the increase in the NBA salary cap and just funnel that straight into paying back the bonds that would be issued to pay for the arena up front.  That certainly sounds to me like it's taking brand new money that's not aimed in any particular direction and sending it directly into the project that will keep that money coming into the state.  If anyone can tell me how that idea is worse than the plan that was announced on Thursday, I'd love to hear the explanation.

We're still a long way from the state house approving this plan, so keep your eyes and ears open for new developments...