MILWAUKEE — During a visit to American Family Field on Thursday evening, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred vehemently reiterated his confidence that Wisconsin’s governmental leaders will fulfill their agreement to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ballpark repairs and upkeep.
“It’s important to keep the issue of funding in some perspective. This is a gem of a ballpark. It’s really important that the existing obligation under the lease be funded so that this great ballpark is maintained on a regular basis,” Manfred told a scrum of local media including WTMJ’s Vince Vitrano.
“They’re not going to let that great community asset fall into decay because the people love this place.”
However, the final decision will be left to the governmental leaders in charge of the state and city’s budgets — a position that has left the Brewers open to speculation about a potential departure from Milwaukee. That has largely come since Republican lawmakers took a firm stance against Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to invest $290 million into the ballpark from 2023-25.
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It’s important to note that government leaders are currently bound to an agreement that places the responsibility of funding the maintenance and upkeep of American Family Field in their hands.
Even through these issues, Manfred remains steadfast that he does not believe it will ever get that far given the integral nature of the Brewers to Milwaukee’s ecosystem.
“There is not a scenario that is in my mind at the current moment,” Manfred said of relocation. “I am more focused on resolving this immediate issue in a timely way so that the ballpark is ll-maintained for the benefit of the fans, and moving onto a longterm extension to make sure that the Brewers stay in Milwaukee.”
Manfred made note that the cost of upkeep increases when things slip through the cracks, alluding to the fact that it’s in everyone’s best interest to reach a conclusion sooner rather than later.
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Tensions have risen higher due to the ongoing situation with the Oakland A’s — another smaller-market MLB team facing relocation because their local government refused to pay for the upkeep of their stadium.
“Milwaukee is the antithesis of what has happened in Oakland, and I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure it stays that way,” Manfred said.
When asked about potentially evening the playing field for small-market teams and big-market teams in terms of spending limits for their rotation, Manfred used this year’s Brewers team as an example of what happens when a small-market team builds organically and methodically to create a true competitor.
“Our principal economic challenge is to make sure that all of our 30 markets have a real opportunity to compete and while spending that’s really disparate is an issue, I think the Brewers are a great example, a model of how a small-market team can compete,” Manfred said. “A team like the Brewers, as demonstrated by their record, can compete.”
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