Milwaukee Arena Deal

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Yesterday, as expected, the Wisconsin state Senate – that bastion of fiscal conservatism – approved $250 million in public financing for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kevin Draper highlights several facts relevant to the deal:

1) earlier in the week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a budget that includes $250 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin system.

As an aside, Walker said the budget would make higher education “more affordable.”

Here was my response to that extraordinary statement:

Moving on…

2) The Bucks co-owners are members of the triple comma clubs, aka billionaires.

3) These deals, as virtually every economist agrees, do not justify their expense. They enrich the team and its owners, not the public. Full stop.

4) As I noted yesterday, this comes on the heels of Adam Silver claiming a significant number of NBA teams are losing money.

Draper writes:

It really is quite a brilliant racket. By crying poor the NBA claws back money from the players, and by teams threatening to move—like the Bucks did just a week ago—they blackmail cities into paying for arenas instead of for desperately needed public services.

Here’s what bothers me: The almost total blackout on ESPN’s main platforms of this deal. We just witnessed several days of wall-to-wall coverage of DeAndre Jordan’s free agency, much of it tending toward haranguing him for not being “man enough” to be an honest and straightforward broker in his negotiations with the Dallas Mavericks, the team he jilted to return to LA.

To be clear, I don’t expect there to be 50-50 coverage of sports stadium and business reporting on the one hand, versus player transactions and free agency gossip on the other. Everyone, including me, would be bored to tears by too much of the former. But could we get 3-97 coverage, as opposed to – what – .1-99.9 coverage.

Here we have – at the heart of the sports world – the richest Americans feeding at the public trough, consistently proffering false or misleading information, negotiating in bad faith and that’s worth almost zero coverage?

By the way, ESPN’s lead business reporter, Darren Rovell, who is *very* active on twitter, has not seen fit to tweet even once about the Milwaukee deal this week.

It’s disgraceful.

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