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Common Ground calls for Fair Play with Milwaukee Bucks Arena Funding

Common Ground calls for Fair Play with Milwaukee Bucks Arena Funding

Monday, October 20, 2014
New York Times

Then there’s another proposal. Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground — a splendid coalition of churches, community groups, mosques and synagogues — stifled the temptation to shout “No!” to the prospect of funneling precious tax dollars to billionaire owners and millionaire players and coaches.

We like pro hoops, they said. But our children’s playing fields and recreation centers and schools are in dreadful shape. (The Milwaukee school system projects a $32 million funding cut this year). If we’re to invest in an arena, let’s insist on a roughly similar amount for our recreation centers and public school playing fields.

Keisha Krumm, an organizer for Common Ground, offered brutal realism. “They are going to get their arena — I don’t have any doubt about that,” she said. “So let’s get something out of it.” “Our children are twisting their ankles, hurting their knees playing here?” Ingram said. “And they want us to build an arena for the N.B.A. athletes even as they say they can’t afford this?”

When Common Ground released its proposal last month — based on a careful study of recreation centers and fields in the city and surrounding suburbs — the owners told the press they would happily talk with the group. That has not happened. Common Ground members spoke of receiving heated phone calls from Ted Kellner, a prominent business leader and minority owner in the Bucks, wondering why they were complaining. In the schools, a woman spoke of having her contract dropped after officials complained she was working with Common Ground.