Earlier this week I highlighted comedian John Oliver’s takedown of the racket that is publicly financed sports stadiums, and yesterday Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee outlined why a fancy entertainment district around the new Bucks arena may end up failing.

The bad news is that all of this development is likely to be cookie-cutter creations based on what generates profits in other cities. If these nine square blocks got developed more slowly and serendipitously as happened on Water Street, there would be 72 different businesses operating and competing with each other rather than one corporate master who has a lock on all the land, and there would be constant change, with different businesses rising and falling, remodeling and tinkering.

The irony of all this is that the city (and county and state) will provide a huge subsidy to the Bucks to create a tinny echo of the most generic parts of other downtowns. Meanwhile little or no subsidy is going to all the hard working, imaginative, ever-changing entrepreneurs of Bay View, Brady Street, Milwaukee Street, the Third Ward, Jefferson Street, Walker’s Point, Center Street and Old World Third Street, all of whom are transforming Milwaukee into an ever-cooler city.

And if any of these entrepreneurs fail, there will be no rescue from the city, but rather a rush by some other business person to fill the gap. Yet, if the huge plan by the Bucks fails or if the arena needs expansion, as inevitably occurs, the team’s billionaire owners will be back to the city, county and state asking for more money, to assure that the same show goes on and on and on.

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One Response to Why a fancy new entertainment district around the Milwaukee Bucks’ taxpayer-funded stadium may fail

  1. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Milwaukee does not need any mroe bars and restaurants.

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