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“Jock tax” could fund new stadiums for Milwaukee Bucks; Populous, HNTB, Eppstein Uhen shortlisted to design

Wisconsin's NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks, are getting a new stadium designed either by Populous, HNTB, or Eppstein Uhen, owners announced last week. Populous is an MVP of sorts in the world of stadium design, with the 2012 London Olympic Stadium to its name. Kansas City's HNTB designed the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium. Local firm Eppstein Uhen is known around Milwaukee for their redesign of Miller Park, among other projects. Basketball fans could attend games in the new stadium as soon as fall 2017 if all goes according to plan. But the project needs money, potentially from a controversial proposal to sell $220 million in state bonds still in limbo. Bucks owners have said they will provide at least $150 million, while former owner and former Sen. Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million. But Wisconsin Governor and likely Republican presidential contender Scott Walker has faced opposition from both sides of the aisle for his proposal to finance the private construction project in part with public funds. Liberals point out his willingness to slash state funding for higher education, social services, and renewable energy programs belies his poor priorities, while the conservative group Americans for Prosperity expressed worries about the Bucks bond deal's risk to taxpayers. The new stadium, intended to prevent the Bucks from leaving Milwaukee when their contract runs out in 2017, is estimated to cost $450 million to $500 million. If the legislature approves Walker's proposal, city and county financing is likely to make up the remaining money. Walker said if the Bucks leave the state, they'd take with them millions per year in income tax collections alone, reported ESPN:
Under what Walker called a "first-of-its-kind" plan, the more than $6.5 million that's collected from taxes on the salaries of the Bucks and visiting NBA players would continue to go to the state's general fund. Walker said that figure is expected to grow due to rising salaries and revenue from the NBA's TV contracts, so any money above $6.5 million would be used to pay off the bond by 2046.
Representatives for the team have said they hope to have a plan for a new home in place within the next month. Should the project go forward (with funding from state bonds or without), the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's critic Mary Louise Schumacher calls for thoughtful design: "Nothing will define the project — and its impact on Milwaukee — like the design."