Many of Wisconsin’s citizens all across the state were excited when the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship last month. Excitement was in the air – even for those that don’t normally watch basketball at any level.
Businesses of all sizes in the greater Milwaukee area probably noticed the bump in their businesses as extra goods and services were needed and many “extra” people came to town. Since professional athletes pay income tax in the state where the income was earned, all Wisconsin citizens profited from the economic impact of the home games for the Milwaukee Bucks. Our collective thanks and congratulations both go to the Milwaukee Bucks!
Just a week earlier the Milwaukee region lost between $70 and $100 million when the Baseball All Star Game was played in Denver. In April, when the Baseball All Star Game was moved from Atlanta due to Georgia’s controversial new voting law, the U.S Travel Association estimated the loss to the Atlanta economy would be $70 million but local Atlanta officials put the loss estimate at $100 million.
The All Star Game was going to recognize the late “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron, the one-time Milwaukee Brave and eventual Milwaukee Brewer. He started his big league career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and moved with the Braves to Atlanta in 1965. His next move, a decade later, was to Milwaukee where he played his last two years as a Milwaukee Brewer before retiring in 1976. So, if the All Star Game was going to be a tribute to Hank Aaron and was going to be removed from Atlanta, why not Milwaukee?
Hank Aaron’s jersey number 44 is retired by both the Braves and the Brewers. In 1982 he was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1988 his name was added to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. He is recognized on Milwaukee’s American Family Field Walk of Fame and the Milwaukee Brewer Wall of Honor.
So why was the All Star Game that honored “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron in Denver? Denver wasn’t awarded a major league baseball franchise until 1991 which was fifteen years after Hank Aaron retired and the Denver Rockies didn’t play until 1993.
Milwaukee, and Wisconsin, lost out on the $70 to $100 million due to poor civic leadership. There are at least four elected and one selected civic “leaders” that probably could have led the charge to move the All Star Game complete with close to $100 million economic impact to Milwaukee. Locally, Mayor Tom Barrett, Mayor since 2004 after a decade in the U.S. House and previously in the State Senate, could have led the effort. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley who had only held that office for a year but was a two-term Assemblyman, could have led the effort. Governor Tony Evers is the Governor of the entire state and could have led the effort. LT Governor Mandela Barnes, a Milwaukee native and former Assemblyman, could have led the effort. These four “leaders” are all Democrats that have been elected by the people to their current office. The selected “leader” is Wisconsin’s Secretary of Tourism-Designee Sara Meaney who leads a department that “formulates and implements a statewide marketing strategy to promote travel to Wisconsin’s scenic, historic, natural, agricultural, educational and recreational attractions.” (Wisconsin Blue Book 2019-2020) While the reason she is still a “designee” after two years in the position is unknown to me, she still could have jumped at the opportunity to grab a $100 million economic impact for Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin.
It appears Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, Governor Tony Evers, LT Governor Mandela Barnes, and Tourism Secretary-Designee Sara Meaney may have individually or collectively caused Milwaukee & the State of Wisconsin to miss out on a $100 million economic impact!