Want to Save Taxpayer Money on the Bucks Arena? Here’s How.

June 22, 2015

by Nick Novak

Originally published by The MacIver Institute.

From what we have seen, the proposed plan for a new Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee is anything but a win for taxpayers. Estimates put the total cost to taxpayers at $400 million, and there is very little return for that money.

Will taxpayers get any of the profits from the events hosted at the new arena? Will they get a stake in the Bucks? What about a piece of the likely lucrative naming rights deal?

Based on reports, none of this is going to happen. What does seem likely, however, is that legislators are not going to let the Bucks leave the state on their watch. Unfortunately, that means that taxpayers are likely on the hook for some part of the new arena.

To take this deal from being bad for taxpayers to being less bad for taxpayers, we at the MacIver Institute have some ideas.

First, the construction of the arena should not be subject to prevailing wage. If the billionaire Bucks owners were paying for this themselves – like the owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors are – prevailing wage would not be a factor.

The left (and some of our good friends on the right) will argue that without the archaic law in place construction workers would earn poverty-level wages and the quality would be so low that the building would likely collapse in the middle of Bango the Buck’s halftime show.

The union-backed Wisconsin Jobs Now is already emailing their members in an effort to guarantee artificially inflated wages for workers building and working at the new arena.

The email called on recipients to call their legislators and tell them to “say no to a Bucks arena deal with no guarantee for living wage jobs for MKE.”

I guess the price tag of the new arena isn’t quite high enough for Jobs Now. Instead of mandating above-market wages that will only raise expenses for others, maybe legislators should focus on bringing down costs for taxpayers – which will benefit everyone.

Continue reading at MacIverInstitute.com.

This column was also published by RightWisconsin.com.