MILWAUKEE — During a Wisconsin’s Afternoon News appearance on Monday, Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, offered the team’s perspective on Wisconsin Republicans’ $700 million proposal for American Family Field’s funding and maintenance.
Monday morning’s proposal is far from finalized. It first needs to be put through the Assembly before heating to the Senate, where suggestions and edits will be offered. Then, it will be returned to the Assembly for approval before heading to Governor Tony Evers’ desk.
“This is a meaningful and important step, and to me, it’s sort of symbolic that there is bipartisan support for the objective, our goal which is, we want to be here for the next generation,” Schlesinger said. “We just need our landlord to have the money to meet its obligation so we can stay here for the next generation.”
Earlier in the year, Gov. Evers put forth his own proposal regarding American Family Field funding. It was quickly shot down by Wisconsin’s Republican leaders, who got to work on their own proposal in the months to follow. While there are appealing aspects from both proposals, Schlesinger’s priority remains separate from either party specifically.
“I’m in favor of [the deal] that is bipartisan and that meets the needs of the state, the taxpayers, our fans, the Stadium District, and the Brewers,” Schlesinger said. “I am not wedded to a specific bill or a specific piece of legislation. I’m focused on the objective, and there are many different pathways to get there.”
Brewers postseason goals, winterization of AmFam Field & redevelopment
If this agreement were to pass as currently constructed, the Brewers would be obligated to pay an additional $100M toward the $700M sum planned for this project through 2050. Schlesinger made a point to highlight that the team is not only increasing its financial obligation voluntarily, but that their only ask through this process was for the state to fulfill the obligation it set for itself when ballpark funding was first approved in 1996.
As part of Wisconsin Republican leaders’ proposal, American Family Field would undergo maintenance to be winterized, meaning it would be warmed up so it can be used throughout the year and not just during baseball season. Research found that the cost of including air conditioning inside the ballpark was far greater than what anyone was willing to spend, so the retractable roof will have to suffice during hot, summer days.
“This is a great facility, but in the offseason, it’s dormant. Winterization would allow us to hold events here in a comfortable, warm environment,” Schlesinger said. “Anytime I can show off this ballpark with events, I want to do it.”
Among the potential events Schlesinger mentioned for American Family Field during the offseason were basketball, volleyball and NHL hockey games, in addition to monster truck events and concerts.
When asked about the possibility of redeveloping space in the parking lots or surrounding area, Schlesinger acknowledged that it’s a thought-provoking topic, but it’s far from the top of his mind or the focus of anyone within the Brewers organization.
“That is something that is interesting, but it’s not something imminent and again, it’s not the focus of the legislation before us,” he said.
Ultimately, through all of the noise, the Milwaukee Brewers are on pace to reach the postseason with tickets to the Wild Card round of the 2023 MLB Playoffs going on sale Friday at 10 a.m.
“Playing meaningful baseball in October is the goal, and ultimately, the prize is the World Series,” Schlesinger said. “Once you’re in the dance, you can be there in the end — you never know.
“I want to play the last game of the season in Major League Baseball and win that last game. That’s the goal.”
TOP HEADLINES FROM THE WTMJ NEWS TEAM:
- Cubanitas celebrates a major milestone to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month
- Proposed gender identity policy in Whitnall School District ignites spirited debate
- WI Republicans unveil $700M deal to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee through 2050
- Greendale student, aspiring Eagle Scout, leads makeover of high school’s courtyard
- Brewers add Northwestern Mutual patch to jerseys immediately, partner to combat childhood cancer