Tribe Offers $220 Million for Arena if Kenosha Casino Approved

Posted on: February 13, 2015, 12:58h. 

Last updated on: January 12, 2023, 11:39h.

Kenosha Casino Walker Milwaukee Bucks
A new offer is designed to get Scott Walker to reconsider a Kenosha casino, but state officials say he’s unlikely to change his mind. (Image: AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has already said that he is against allowing the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin to build a casino in Kenosha.

But if the tribe has anything to say about it, the governor will reconsider. After all, they say, they’re willing to make him an offer he can’t refuse.

On Tuesday, the Menominee Tribe announced that they would be willing to pay $220 million towards a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, but only if Governor Walker changes his previous decision and approves the Menominee Hard Rock Kenosha Casino and Hotel.

That $220 million would be enough to cover the share taxpayers would have to pay in order to build the new arena.

Deal Positioned as Saving Taxpayers From Arena Costs

“We have watched with interest as Governor Walker has proposed using $220 million in public money to help build a new Milwaukee arena for the Bucks, and we’ve watched as state legislators, conservative groups and others from throughout Wisconsin and across the political spectrum object to using taxpayer money for such a project when the state is cutting UW funding by $300 million,” said Tribal chairman Gary Besaw.

“Our proposal eliminates a big political problem and creates a major advantage to state taxpayers. We want Wisconsin to stay big-league. But we also want to help make sure state taxpayers don’t bear the financial burden of keeping the team.”

Along with the money for the arena, the Menominee also said they would be willing to increase a bond from $250 million to $275 million in order to help the state cover any potential losses at other gambling venues.

Combining these amounts with the amount the state could raise from gaming revenue, Besaw said that the tribe would now be contributing around $1.7 billion to the state if the casino were to be approved.

“This proposal eliminates the need for State taxpayer funds to build a new arena, increases projections and firmly and factually resolves other concerns,” Besaw said. “It shows the Kenosha casino is truly a win-win-win for Wisconsin.”

Walker Unlikely to Revisit Casino

However, the odds of actually changing Governor Walker’s mind on the issue appear to be long. According to Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, Walker has already weighed in on the matter, and won’t be looking to revisit the issue anytime soon.

“I believe the Governor has made a decision and we have moved on,” Huebsch said in a statement. “When you get to this point and you’re starting to negotiate through press release, you recognize there are some very serious concerns over the validity of those offers.”

The Milwaukee Bucks were also unwillingly dragged into the debate over the Kenosha casino. In comments made on Tuesday, team officials reiterated that they were in favor of Walker’s funding proposal rather than the new offer from the Menominee.

“We stand by how excited we are about the governor’s leadership and building his legislation towards what he started about a week ago,” said team president Peter Feigin. “We’re very centered on following the governor’s lead.”

That said, Feigin was willing to listen to an offer from the Menominee tribe. However, he had yet to hear from either the tribe or officials from Hard Rock on the issue.

The Bucks say that they hope to have construction on their new arena by next fall.