MILWAUKEE — A group of community and business leaders from across the state have joined together to help keep Major League Baseball in Wisconsin.

The newly formed Home Crew Coalition supports finding a bipartisan solution to make sure there are enough resources for American Family Field to continue to serve as the home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

What You Need To Know

  • A statewide group of community and business leaders announced the launch of the Home Crew Coalition in support of a solution to keep Major League Baseball in Wisconsin

  • The new coalition supports finding a bipartisan solution and aims to raise awareness about the important economic benefits the ballpark provides to Wisconsin

  • Since it opened in 2001, the ballpark has generated an estimated $2.5 billion in statewide economic impact

Gov. Tony Evers recently called for spending $290 million of the state’s estimated surplus to help the ballpark district meet its contractual obligations with the team to repair and improve the stadium.

“I grew up watching Brewers games. I grew up looking forward to my parents getting dressed and us going to Brewers games, and I’ve done that with my kids,” said Milwaukee restaurateur and developer Omar Shaikh. “My family enjoys going to the games, so it hits home for me.”

AP Photo

Shaikh, who will serve as the coalition’s chairperson, knows how much the Brewers mean to the community.

“They employ thousands of people at the stadium,” Shaikh explained. “The Brewers Community Foundation does great work, and it has rotated tens of millions of dollars through it, and really is benefitting charities and foundations throughout the state.”

Stakeholders from both sides of the aisle, like Shaikh, also hope to highlight the economic benefits of having the ballpark in Wisconsin, which is estimated to have generated nearly $2.5 billion in statewide economic impact since opening in 2001.

It is the reason why Shaikh came up with the idea to start a statewide coalition in the first place.

“I’ve met so many people throughout not just the state, all throughout this country, that are Brewers fans,” said Shaikh. “People from all across the state come here for these series, and they stay in the hotels, and they spend in the restaurants, and spending on retail and transportation. Also, if you go on the outskirts in a lot of other cities throughout the state, you go to the bars when the games are on, and the Brewers games are on.”

The membership of the Home Crew Coalition is comprised of leaders from all corners of the state with diverse backgrounds:

  • Andrew Disch, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Mike Grebe, retired attorney, local philanthropist, and former chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin
  • Dan Kapanke, La Crosse Loggers Baseball Team owner and former state senator
  • Tracy Johnson, Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin
  • Ashok Rai, Prevea Health
  • Peggy Smith, VISIT Milwaukee
  • Jim Villa, NAIOP Wisconsin
  • Rob Zerjav, The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Last week, the Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, which crafts the state budget, talked about Gov. Evers’ proposal during a WisPolitics event. While the lawmakers did not seem outright opposed to the idea and even pointed to a similar deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum, they said they did not care for how the governor went about bringing up the issue.

(Spectrum News 1/Mandy Hague)

During another WisPolitics event this week, the governor had the chance to respond.

“Even though Republicans were meeting with the Brewers before I put it in the budget, they seem to be surprised,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m not sure why, but they seemed to be surprised. Yeah, I think it’s important. First of all, I’m a Brewers fan. I’ll say that out loud, but at the end of the day, the Brewers bring a lot of money into the state of Wisconsin.’’

Right now, the Brewers and American Family Field have a lease agreement that is set to expire after the 2030 season.

Based on what Gov. Evers has called for, the Brewers would have to sign at 20-year deal, which would keep the team in Wisconsin through 2043 as a 13-year extension.