Inconsistent chatter from a Sacramento-based 'Sconi attorney.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Major League Soccer in Milwaukee?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

An investor group today formally announced a $320 million plan to build a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium as part of a large, mixed-use development in downtown Milwaukee. The key to the project is securing a Major League Soccer franchise, said the group's new CEO, Peter Wilt of Whitefish Bay.

The group, Milwaukee Professional Soccer LLC, wants to put the entire development on vacant Park East land. However, city officials are opposed to locating the development there; they have offered to discuss alternatives sites.

If it comes to fruition, the development would total $3 million more than the proposed PabstCity development. That development, which awaits a Common Council vote in less than two weeks, would convert the old Pabst Brewery into a downtown entertainment and retail complex.

At a press conference at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, Wilt and Marty Greenberg, a Milwaukee sports attorney, said their project would be the "final economic engine" for a downtown entertainment district. The two said the project could produce as many as 1,000 jobs, provide new retail and office space downtown, and be the home of a new MLS franchise.

Major League Soccer has plans to expand, and Milwaukee would be on a long list of cities seeking to secure a franchise. MLS officials have said they would consider Milwaukee. The stadium could host between 40 to 60 events a year, including MLS and international soccer matches, NCAA and youth soccer games, concerts and other community events.

Mayor Tom Barrett, who has made economic development a key part of his administration, was not present at the press conference. Greenberg said the mayor had been told of the project's scope. "He's anxious to learn more about this," Greenberg said.

Greenberg and Wilt said more details of the project would be released in the weeks and months ahead. But both said Milwaukee and the investor group needed to move fast in order to secure an MLS franchise for the city. The 12-team league is looking to expand to 14 teams by 2007.

"Move-fast" and Milwaukee aren't often in the same sentence. As much as I hope, pulling this off would be close to a miracle.

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