PATEL: Arena talk reveals issue of fair public spending

PatelcolorAs Marquette students, most of us are well-acquainted with the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which is not only home to the men’s basketball team, but also the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks’ lease expires Sept. 30, 2017 and as a result of this and the team’s recent sale, the Bucks seek a new arena to be built for them to remain in Milwaukee.

While the new owners and other prominent businessmen in Milwaukee invested in the project, public funding will also be used to build the $300,000,000 project. Private investors are still being found, yet the predicted amount of public funding being used build this arena is huge.

The justification for the new arena is that it will eventually boost the city’s economy and bring in more money once it is up and running. The loss of the Bucks to another city is also a fear of many in support of the project. If the Bucks do not secure an arena site soon, the NBA can buy them back and move them to one of several cities interested in the team, such as Las Vegas or Seattle.

My question, and the question of others, is why they will not simply resign their lease with the Bradley Center. The answer is simple in as the team wants a better, more state-of-the-art playing space, and those invested in the team and new arena, are willing to do whatever it takes to attain this and keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Many individuals and Milwaukee’s surrounding counties are opposed to the new arena being built with public funding. While the current plan is that only Milwaukee county tax money will go toward the building of the new arena, individuals from outside counties still spend money in the city and would not like their tax to go toward a cause they do not support.

A Milwaukee-based organization is taking a different stance on the matter. Common Ground does not oppose the building of the arena as long as its own Fair Play Campaign receives $150,000,000 to $250,000,000 of public funding. The Fair Play Campaign goal is to use this funding to create safe and up-to-date playing facilities for the 268 facilities that service the 290 schools. The message is simple: if the Bucks get public money for a new place to play, why shouldn’t Milwaukee youth?

If Common Ground is not allotted this funding, it will oppose the building of the new Bucks arena along with so many others. While the best scenario would be for individuals to not be taxed in order to finance the new Bucks arena, I believe Common Ground makes a fair claim that if public funding is going to go toward a new arena, then some should go toward fixing the fields and gyms for students in Milwaukee. Whether these gyms are fixed up may not seem to directly affect us, but it is still an issue within the Marquette community. This also puts the playing space of the men’s basketball team up in the air with the Bucks trying to move. The future of the Bradley Center use is unsure, though some say it will remain an entertainment facility for concerts and other events.

Whatever view you take, taxes will increase for the purpose of building a new Bucks arena and that should catch the attention of taxpayers in Milwaukee. Turning this into a positive, if Common Ground receives funding as well, a considerable number of Milwaukee residents will surely benefit, while the Bucks arena’s widespread benefits are up for debate. While supporting the Fair Play Campaign implies support for the arena, it is about the greater good, and the greater good is to support Milwaukee youth through an efficient use of tax dollars.