Walker backs public funding for NBA arena

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is signing off on funding for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena on Wednesday, a new report says.

Walker will authorize $250 million in public money to build the professional basketball team’s next home in a ceremony that morning, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

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The newspaper said the franchise will receive the public money over the next 20 years.

Walker’s move to provide the Milwaukee Bucks with a new home court has drawn criticism at home as he runs for the presidency.

Detractors argue the arena project is too costly for Wisconsin residents and serves to line the pockets of the franchise’s already wealthy owners. The bill Walker plans to sign was passed by Wisconsin’s Legislature last month with bipartisan support.

Walker first allocated state borrowing for the new Bucks stadium in Wisconsin’s annual budget in February.

The 2016 GOP White House hopeful has repeatedly argued that Wisconsin would lose significant revenue from income taxes if the franchise leaves the state.

The Journal-Sentinel said on Wednesday that the project carries a projected cost of $500 million, with half that total coming from public dollars.

The other portion, it added, will come from Bucks owners and former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl (D), himself an ex-franchise owner.

Walker originally dedicated $220 million in state funding toward the arena’s building, the Journal-Sentinel said.

State lawmakers have since reworked the deal into a $250 million project budgeted by multiple Wisconsin political entities, it added.

The report said that state, city and county residents are ultimately expecting $400 million in costs when accounting for $174 million in interest over the next two decades.

Any construction cost overruns and maintenance expenses are to be paid by Bucks ownership, it said. Milwaukee is reportedly paying $47 million to build a parking structure and tax incremental financing.

The newspaper added that the remaining $203 million stems from bonds issued by the arena and its related entertainment district paid off by state taxpayers, a $4 million decrease in state aid to Milwaukee during the next 20 years, and an increase in ticket surcharges and existing hotel, car rental, and food and beverage taxes collected from Milwaukee by the Wisconsin Center District.