Opinions have perhaps never been any louder on the proposed Milwaukee Bucks arena than they have been in the past few days, but there are signs that we now could be closer to seeing a positive resolution than we have ever been before.
It was only Sunday night when John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” went on a stirring, if albeit at times slightly sensationalist and misguided, rant about America’s culture of providing public funding for sports arenas.
He briefly honed in on Milwaukee, and the Bucks, in a more specific sense too in a piece of press that couldn’t have felt much more poorly timed to the organization or arena supporters.
With timing of the essence, the last thing that arena proponents needed was that type of negative spotlight, and there’s no doubt it caused concern that further doubts would be sewn in the minds of the undecided. Thankfully, that seems to have proven not to be the case though.
According to reports from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a deal could be closer than ever as a vote of approval from the senate could potentially come as soon as today, Wednesday.
"Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate were close to reaching an agreement Tuesday after spending a long day negotiating behind closed doors on a deal to have the public help finance a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.They will resume talks Wednesday morning."
The original funding plan proposed by Governor Scott Walker back in January has received modifications in the time since, and may now be structured in a way that can meet the approval of if not all parties, at least 17 of those with Senate votes needed for the proposal to pass.
Reports had suggested that the deal was hanging on the approval of three Milwaukee Senate representatives, as David Ade of CBS 58 tweeted on Monday:
It would appear significant progress has been made in that regard though. One of the aforementioned senators Chris Larsen tweeted on Tuesday:
According to the Journal-Sentinel’s report from last night that compromise seems to have been reached too:
"Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said he believed Democrats had gotten a concession that would clear the way for him to vote for the package. Supporters cautioned they hadn’t nailed down all the votes."
Timing is crucial, as not only does the NBA’s deadline near ever closer, but changes in the state’s political landscape could also sway the future of the Bucks in Milwaukee. Once again, Andrew Hahn and Patrick Marley of the Journal-Sentinel highlight the urgency needed for the deal to pass:
"Republicans control the Legislature but have said they need three to four Democratic votes in the Senate and as many as 15 in the Assembly to pass the package. Key Democrats have said they want changes to the deal.Timing is crucial. On Friday, Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) is giving up his Senate seat so he can focus full time on his job as Waukesha County executive.He is expected to be replaced by Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), who is running in next week’s special election in the overwhelmingly Republican Senate district.Farrow has been supportive of the arena package, while Kapenga has been skeptical of it. If a deal isn’t reached this week, it will be harder for supporters of it to round up the needed votes."
Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald has publicly stated his unwillingness to jeopardize the deal by making any rash decisions, and as reported by Jason Stein of the Journal-Sentinel, Fitzgerald was pretty clear in his intentions yesterday:
"I’m not going to the floor without the votes."
So, with the vote potentially set to take place later today, are we about to clear one more significant hurdle on the way to securing the future of your team in Milwaukee, Bucks fans?
Let’s hope so.
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