16.10.15

SUNSET.

Brown County, Wisconsin, levied a sales tax to help finance improvements at Lambeau Field.  The improvements are in place, and the Green Bay Packers and the City of Green Bay are doing well, thank you.  Thus, the tax is kaput.
"It was passed for a specific purpose and that purpose was accomplished and it ended as it was required to end according to state statute," said Patrick Webb, executive director of the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District, which administered tax proceeds. "It is a tax that ended, even though a lot of people said it might not."

The money was used to pay for $160 million in bonding for the $295 million renovation of Lambeau Field in 2003, and to provide the Green Bay Packers with a capped amount of maintenance and operations reimbursement annually through the end of the lease in 2031. The stadium is owned by the city of Green Bay and the stadium district. The Packers own some of the improvements.
The Packers, despite having perhaps a stronger case for viewing a stadium subsidy as a business incubator than teams located in larger communities, have financed improvements to the stadium and the environs out of revenues.
All of the recent Lambeau renovations were paid for by the Packers. The Titletown District will be paid for by the Packers and tenants, though it is possible tax-increment finance district assistance for infrastructure improvements will be requested. Sales tax support was not considered.

Murphy said the margin of victory for the sales tax was not large in 2000 and it would be more difficult to get such a tax passed in today's political environment, even in Green Bay. He said the NFL's stadium loan program, enacted at the same time of the last collective bargaining agreement in 2011, has helped the Packers with their newer projects, the most recent of which is $55 million in upgrades to suites.
Suites often come bundled with a seat license, and beneficiaries are often willing to bear the burden.  But taxpayers are a little better off.

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