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Brewers will stay in Milwaukee until 2050 after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs bipartisan bill approving funds of $500million for stadium renovations

After months of backroom wrangling, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed a bill that would spend half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the next three decades to help the Milwaukee Brewers repair their baseball stadium.

The governor signed the bipartisan package Tuesday at American Family Field, calling the legislation a compromise agreement between the team and the public.

“Overall, this plan ensures that the Milwaukee Brewers will continue to call this city home for nearly 30 years to come,” Evers said before signing the legislation at a podium at home plate. The lights of the stadium flashed as he picked up his pen from the papers.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and former Major League Baseball commissioner and former Brewers owner Bud Selig appeared alongside Evers. Attanasio called the signing “a special day” as he thanked lawmakers, Brewers employees and the public for helping him deliver what he called the best possible fan experience at the stadium. Selig said nothing, but nodded when Attanasio introduced him as his mentor.

The Brewers say the 22-year-old stadium is in need of extensive renovations. The stadium's exterior glass doors, seats and concourses need to be replaced, the stadium's luxury suites and video scoreboard need to be upgraded and the stadium's signature retractable roof, fire suppression systems, parking lots, elevators and escalators need work, according to the team.

Brewers will stay in Milwaukee until 2050 after Wisconsin Gov

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signs two Assembly Bills at American Family Field on Tuesday, December 5

$500 million in taxpayer money will help the Brewers make repairs over the next 30 years

$500 million in taxpayer money will help the Brewers make repairs over the next 30 years

The Brewers say their 22-year-old park needs renovations, including the seating, glass doors and suites

The Brewers say their 22-year-old park needs renovations, including the seating, glass doors and suites

Brewers officials warned lawmakers that the team could leave Milwaukee without public assistance. Spurred by the threat of losing tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, lawmakers unveiled a grant package in September.

Debates about handing public dollars to professional sports teams are always divisive. Attanasio is worth an estimated $700 million according to Yahoo Finance, and the team itself is valued at around $1.6 billion according to Forbes.

Critics, including some Milwaukee-area lawmakers, insisted the Brewers made no money and that the state should spend its tax dollars on programs designed to help people.

The package underwent multiple revisions as lawmakers looked for ways to reduce the government subsidy. The bill Evers ultimately signed calls for a state contribution of $365.8 million, paid out in annual payments through 2050. The city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will contribute a combined $135 million.

The legislation also imposes surcharges on tickets to non-baseball events at the stadium, such as rock concerts or monster truck rallies. The supplements are expected to generate $20.7 million.

The Brewers, in turn, will spend $110 million and extend their stadium lease through 2050, keeping Major League Baseball in the smallest market for another 27 years.

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, L, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, R on Tuesday

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, L, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, R on Tuesday

Milwaukee is the smallest market of all MLB franchises.  The Brouwers were founded in 1970

Milwaukee is the smallest market of all MLB franchises. The Brouwers were founded in 1970

The bill easily passed the Legislature last month, with the General Assembly approving it by a vote of 72 to 26 and the Senate following suit by a vote of 19 to 14.

Attanasio said during the signing that the Brewers have received inquiries from other cities about relocating, but relocating was never an option. He said he understands how painful it was for the community when the Milwaukee Braves left for Atlanta in 1966. He did not name the cities that inquired about hosting the Brewers.

Milwaukee was without a Major League Baseball team after the Braves left until 1970, when the Seattle Pilots moved to town and became the Brewers.

“We never considered going anywhere else,” Attanasio said. “We always wanted to be here.”

The stadium opened in 2001 as Miller Park, replacing the aging County Stadium. Construction cost approximately $392 million and was largely financed through a 0.1% sales tax imposed in Milwaukee County and the four other counties surrounding the stadium.

Evers waxed nostalgic about the Brewers before signing the legislation, reminiscing about collecting Brewer bobbleheads, meeting Hank Aaron at County Stadium as a boy and watching Milwaukee Braves' pitcher Warren Spahn win his 300th game at the County Stadium in 1961.

Evers has faced criticism from conservatives in recent weeks for using an alternative state email address under the name Spahn.