(WFRV) – A bill that will prioritize Lambeau Field maintenance, road repairs, law enforcement, and $700 checks to homeowners was recently introduced to state officials this week.
According to a release, Representative David Steffen (R-Howard) proposed the bill to close the 21-year-old Stadium District program and says, “I believe now is the time to close this under-monitored, unaccountable government program and ensure the money is directed to the priorities of the people.”
The bill highlights the following:
- Close the Stadium District: By September 16, 2022.
- Refund Checks: Every Brown County homeowner would be provided with a property tax refund check of $700 – 30 days after the District is closed.
- Invest: Will require Green Bay to invest the excess, non-Lambeau Field maintained funds in law enforcement, road repairs, Lambeau Field and Fox River area economic development or additional tax relief checks for residents.
- Road Improvements: Provide $3 million to both the Village of Ashwaubenon and Brown County for roadway improvements.
- Helping Small Businesses: Inject $2.5 million into Brown County’s small businesses and community projects.
The release also explains the bill will have an annual revenue estimate of $10 million for Green Bay for the purpose of the Packers Ticket Tax. It goes on to say the funds generated from the tax will be dedicated to Lambeau Field operations and maintenance expenses. It notes that officials decided the amount of $10 million reflects the estimated revenue increase from a 17th Packers game and well below average ticket price increases over the remaining 20 years of its lease. The release says the Packers ticket increase from 2006 to 2021 was 121%.
If the bill passes, Rep. Steffen says the law will require the new revenue to be used for road repairs and upgrades, law enforcement, taxable economic development, and additional tax relief checks for Green Bay residents.
What is the Stadium District?
The Stadium District is a temporary government program made up of 7 appointed Brown County residents, who the release says were charged to oversee the 3-year, $285 million Lambeau Field Redevelopment project that ended in 2003.
Rep. Steffen says the Stadium District had three objectives to accomplish:
- Oversee the 2000-2003 Lambeau Field redevelopment.
- Administer the related half-cent, Brown County sales tax.
- Pay off the loans related to the redevelopment project.
The release states that all three were finished in 2015 and the District should have been dissolved when the objectives were accomplished.
Rep. Steffen says in 2000, the Green Bay Packers hired him for the purpose of communicating the intent and value of the stadium redevelopment. He says he has spent six months drafting the proposal, collaborating with legislative attorneys, tax experts, accountants, property management companies, and individuals with expertise in NFL and stadium economics.
Is Lambeau Field going to be maintained at its current level?
In the release, it says the bill includes a requirement to uphold the current level of maintenance and aesthetic beauty. Currently, the release states that all maintenance is handled by an independent maintenance management company with national facility experts.
Rep. Steffen explains the Packers have also agreed to pay for the expenses and responsibilities not handled by the taxpayers.
He goes on to say the benefit of having the city of Green Bay oversee Lambeau Field instead of the District is the cost will be less. “The District hires three part-time administrative staff, whereas the city of Green Bay already has staff on the payroll to handle this responsibly. Second, the Green Bay government works every week. The District meets just four afternoons a year. This means additional attention and oversight of Lambeau Field. Third, and most importantly, the city of Green Bay has extensive legal requirements relating to transparency and public funds handling. The District board does not have the same structure and operates without direct review of expenditures of the public’s money.”
Will Lambeau Field still be owned by ‘the public’?
According to Rep. Steffen, the answer is yes. He says Lambeau Field has been the property of Green Bay since it was constructed in 1956 and it will remain Green Bay’s property.