Last week, Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) suggested extending the Miller Park sales tax as a way to finance a future renovation or replacement of the Bradley Center.
The 0.1 percent tax, established in 1996, is still a delicate subject in the five-county area where it is in effect. Extending it to build a new facility for the Bucks makes sense on the surface but it is the wrong solution.
It would be one thing if there was support, both at the regional and state levels, to extend the tax as a means to bankroll quality of life needs like parks, transit and the arts while including a new Milwaukee arena as part of the package. A similar practice is being used in Minnesota, where a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County is paying the public portion of the tab for Target Field while also supporting the county library system and youth sports programs.
Changing the law to provide similar benefits from a Miller Park tax extension would still be unpopular but at the very least, it would be more beneficial and not just a way of helping to give millionaires a place to play.
That's not likely to happen, though.
The use of public funding for new stadiums was unpopular then and it is even more so now, as the economy continues to struggle, millions remain unemployed and local and state officials are trying to find ways to do more with much less.
Miller Park's opening in 2001 came in the waining years of the stadium-building craze. Since 1993, when Camden Yards opened in Baltimore, 17 new stadiums have opened in Major League Baseball. Two parks (in Kansas City and U.S. Cellular Field) have undergone major renovations and three others opened for expansion teams.
In that same time frame, 20 new buildings have opened in National Basketball Association markets as well as several facilities for NHL and NFL teams.
Yes, the Bucks' home is "old" by NBA standards. Yes, the Bradley Center lacks the amenities and revenue-generating streams that newer arenas offer. But as it has been said many, many times before, building a new arena will not instantly cure the Bucks woes.
As it stands, the Bucks have a fairly sweetheart deal at the Bradley Center. They pay no rent. The team gets a cut of every dollar spent in the facility. That beer you buy at an Admirals game? The Bucks get a cut. The Marquette sweatshirt you buy at a Golden Eagles game? The Bucks get their cut.
Still, they need more. That's not their fault. It's not. Yes, the team would draw much better and see its financial situation improve slightly, but even a championship-caliber franchise would struggle to break even.
The NBA is broken. Plain and simple. The league's economic model is beyond flawed. The growing talk of a possible lockout only reinforces that notion. Teams like the Bucks, new arena or not, will always be behind the eight-ball because of the soft salary cap and a lack of revenue sharing.
At some point, a serious discussion regarding the Bradley Center will be needed. That conversation can't and shouldn't be held, though, until the NBA cleans itself up financially and makes it possible for markets like Milwaukee, Memphis, Sacramento and probably a few others to compete.
One thing is certain, the days of publicly-financed sports facilities are coming to an end. Extending the Miller Park sales tax may be logical but ultimately it is not the right way to go about solving the Bucks' problems.
Practice makes perfect: During an appearance last week on ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM), Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted he had been practicing his Disneyland line in the event he was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLV.
"They kind of talked to four or five guys on both sides that may be the MVP, so I knew if we won and I'm the MVP, I'm going to have to do this commercial," Rodgers said. "I swear I said those words probably twelve times no joke. I mean you exaggerate and say twenty times, but it felt like twenty times. It was probably twelve times where I said 'I'm going to Disneyland!' Because they kept coming up to me and saying 'Oh we didn't get good audio there. Oh we need more energy. I want to do this.'"
You can listen to the entire interview here.
Ebersol moves on: If you grew up loving sports but living in a non-cable household, you probably appreciated the Olympics a little more than those who had access to ESPN. One of the architects of American Olympic coverage is out of the picture from here on out after Dick Ebersol left NBC last week.
Granted, his "plausibly live" concept, which consisted of showing more popular events on a tape-delay basis during prime time hours, ruffled a lot of feathers, but under his watch, the Olympics have been a success in the ratings books.
Aside from Roone Arledge, who was the brains behind the early days of ABC Sports, "Monday Night Football" and "Wide World of Sports," few in the broadcast industry have had a bigger impact on the sports world than Ebersol.
Larry King Lounge: The Packers' helmet was ranked fourth overall in the NFL by an ESPN.com panel ... Marquette head coach Buzz Williams got a pretty hefty raise when his contract was extended this spring. He reportedly will make $2.5 million beginning next season after earning a base salary of $876,282 in 2010-11. His new figure puts him in the top-10 among college coaches ... The Badgers travel to North Carolina next year to face the Tar Heels in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge ... Congrats to GMR Marketing which was recognized for its sports marketing efforts by Sports Business Journal ... UW-Whitewater has advanced to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, scheduled for next weekend at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.