Is MLB pushing Brewers to move if stadium repairs aren’t made?

The Milwaukee Brewers are hoping the state of Wisconsin will help cover some of the costs of repairs needed for American Family Field.

If they do not get it, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly urging the Brewers to leave Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Brewers have played at their current home since 2001. Repairs are reportedly required to keep the building up to date.

The estimated cost is somewhere between $428 million and $448 million.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers proposed giving the team $290 million in public assistance if the Crew agreed to extend their lease through 2043. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos killed that proposal believing the state should work out a better agreement.

The report believed Manfred came to Milwaukee this weekend to have a press conference to encourage major renovations for the ballpark, and if it is not achieved, the Brewers could seek out a new hometown.

There is another report that Major League Baseball has not laid down an ultimatum of upgrading the ballpark formerly known as Miller Park or exiting the market.

Rob Manfred denied he pushed using a relocation tactic to gain leverage.

This would not be the first time Manfred has denied publicly something he has done behind the scenes. His words, along with the local radio report, seems to confirm Major League Baseball is not looking to push the Brewers out of Milwaukee.

Public funding for stadiums is always controversial.

The Brew Crew’s current ballpark was built after a 0.1 sales tax was passed in 1995 that applied to Milwaukee’s five county region. A state senator was recalled because of the controversial bill.

Sports franchises are always looking for public help when it comes to building new stadiums. The economic impact is always cited as the benefit for local governments to fund these buildings.

The counterargument is these franchises are owned by incredibly wealthy individuals, and these teams make huge profits, so they should fit the bill themselves.

The trend lately is a mix of public and private funding. The Buffalo Bills, the NFL, New York, and Erie County are all kicking in money to build a new stadium–although the taxpayers will fit the majority of it.

Fiserv Forum was built with Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, and the city of Milwaukee footing half the $500 million bill. The Milwaukee Bucks’ ownership group kicked in $150 million, and former owner Herb Kohl added $100 million.

The Arizona Coyotes saw Tempe voters reject a proposal for some public funding for a planned new arena. Now their future in the state is up in the air, with Milwaukee being a long-shot rumored relocation spot.

The Oakland Athletics just reached an agreement with Nevada for public contributions towards building a new stadium and relocating to Las Vegas.

The A’s recent deal was one of the reported reasons Manfred pressed Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio to threaten a move.

The Brewers’ lease is not up until 2030, so Attanasio cannot just pull up anchor and leave town after the season.

There are cities ready and willing to welcome an MLB franchise, whether it is through expansion or relocation.

Nashville hopes to attract a big-league team. Salt Lake City and Orlando have all recently announced plans to bring Major League Baseball to their towns. Orlando is even willing to poach the Rays if they cannot get a new stadium in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

Portland and Charlotte have long been speculated as a cities that MLB could expand too. Montreal has had hopes of the game returning as well.

Attanasio gave no indication he wants to move the team when he talked about the proposed renovation funding in April. He does seem to want some public money to help with upgrading American Family Field. There is a feeling out there that he has more than enough money to foot the entire repair bill.

Mark Attanasio is worth a reported $700 million.  Forbes estimates the Milwaukee Brewers are worth around $1.605 billion. Attanasio paid $223 million back in 2005 for the team, so he is set to make a nice return whenever he sells the club.

At the same time, it is not unprecedented for public money to be used, so Attanasio is not out of line in asking for state contributions. Plus, part of the original funding package calls for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball District to cover the repair costs. Although how any repairs for improvement must keep the park within the top 25% of any ballpark.

How much of the over $400 million needed to repair the stadium still has not been itemized publicly to determine what the state officially needs to cover and what is just on the Brewers’ wishlist.

Hopefully, a deal can be worked out without Attanasio having to use the relocation threat for leverage.