THU AM News: Brewers exec discusses potential for entertainment district; Dane County announces construction start on solar project

— An executive with the Milwaukee Brewers says an entertainment district near American Family Field could help offset a potential funding shortfall for stadium improvements. 

Speaking during a recent event hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and, Milwaukee Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said investing in real estate is a possibility but that it wouldn’t be the only solution to this challenge. 

Earlier this month, a Milwaukee County Board supervisor submitted a resolution calling for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to work with local officials to explore the possibility of creating a nearby entertainment district. 

Schlesinger pointed to the Deer District in Milwaukee and Titletown near Lambeau Field in Green Bay as successful examples of similar developments in Wisconsin. 

“Not only does it have to co-exist with the prime goal of the ballpark, which is to provide a beautiful place to go to a baseball game, and to provide tailgating opportunities for our fans … but it has to make sense within the neighborhood, and it has to make sense economically for us,” he said. 

Schlesinger said a stadium needs assessment report, conducted by Venue Solutions Group, is expected to be complete this summer. He expects it will highlight a funding shortfall, but declined to speculate on a specific number as the report is still in progress. He also noted the Brewers don’t want to bring back the five-county sales tax that generated over $600 million before ending in 2020. 

“We don’t need the five-county tax back,” he said. “There’s other solutions that I think can be creative that require a lot of different analysis … so I don’t look at the retirement of the five-county tax as this horrible disaster that has now created this huge problem. The reality is, we have to be creative in how we fund what we need.” 

Meanwhile, he said the Brewers are seeing lower group ticket sales, noting they have “not returned to anywhere near normal levels.” That’s not surprising, he said, as fewer companies are holding employee outings and schools are in a similar position with limited extracurricular trips and activities. 

“We would probably do, in a normal year, about 600,000 [group] ticket sales. This year, probably 400,000,” he said, adding that “our goal is to make sure this is a one-year aberration.” 

He noted ticket sales represent the team’s largest source of revenue, with between 2.5 million and 2.6 million total ticket sales for this year. 

Watch a video of the event here: 

— Dane County officials and developers have announced the start of construction on a 90-acre solar project that’s expected to help the county reach renewable energy goals. 

According to a release, construction of the Yahara Solar Project will achieve the county’s goal of using 100 percent renewable electricity at all county facilities. It’s expected to begin operation early next year, with over 33,000 solar panels producing enough electricity each year to power 3,000 homes in the county. 

The projected reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the project is equal to the output of over 3,800 cars, or the burning of 20 million pounds of coal per year. 

Madison-based Alliant Energy has selected SunVest Solar of Pewaukee to “build, operate, and initially own” the project on county-owned land in the town of Cottage Grove, the release shows. The project is expected to support about 70 jobs during peak construction. 

Once complete, the solar field will be the largest renewable energy project in the county, and nearly twice as large as the solar array at the Dane County Regional Airport that’s been online since late 2020. 

“Our clean energy partnership with Alliant Energy and SunVest Solar results in Dane County achieving our goal of powering our buildings with 100% renewable electricity,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in the release. “I’m proud that our county is the first in the state and just a handful in the nation to achieve this renewable energy accomplishment that combats climate change and creates local clean energy jobs.”

See the release:

See a map of renewable energy and conservation projects in the county: 

— Exact Sciences has announced a new supply agreement with California-based Ultima Genomics aimed at lowering the cost of genetic testing services. 

According to a release announcing the agreement, Ultima Genomics will provide Exact Sciences with access to its “next-generation sequencing” products, designed to reduce the cost of genetic sequencing to “a fraction of the cost” of available commercial options. 

And the two companies say they will develop one or more of the Madison-based biotechnology company’s cancer diagnostics tests using Ultima’s sequencing technology. 

Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences, says access to affordable genetic testing is “critical” for patients before cancer diagnosis and during the treatment process. In a statement, he notes Ultima’s goal of reducing the cost of sequencing supports Exact Sciences’ efforts to provide “accurate and affordable” testing for cancer patients. 

“This is particularly important for applications like cancer screening, minimal residual disease, and recurrence monitoring, which could lead to millions of tests per year,” he said. 

See the release: 

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— A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report shows the public sector employment rate is lower than ever in the past two decades as local governments and schools face revenue challenges.

The number of local and state government employees in Wisconsin per 1,000 residents dropped to 47.1 this year from 53.2 in 2002, according to the report released this morning. The report cites the 2012 reduction in K-12 revenue caps, lagging state funding for local governments and the UW System and rising labor costs as possibly driving the decline. The share of public education employees dropped 9.9 percent since 2002 despite the national average remaining flat over the same time.

Declines in education employees significantly affect the overall public employment rate because most work in education, according to the report.

“A majority of state employees also work in education, nearly all of them for the University of Wisconsin System,” the report reads.

The narrowing payroll gap between public and private sector employees is also likely driving the decrease, according to the report. Wisconsin’s local employees in 2021 made 0.9 percent more than the average statewide personal income compared to the 25.5 percent more they made in 2002. State employees made 25 percent more than the average in 2021 compared to the 40.5 percent they made in 2002.

Both of those payroll trends are similar to national trends, according to the report.

Of Wisconsin’s current public employees, 35.6 per 1,000 residents work for local governments, while 11.5 per 1,000 work for the state. Last year, Wisconsin’s total number of full-time equivalent public employees fell to 277,783 from 289,944 in 2002.

See the report:

— Port Milwaukee Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht has been appointed to a federal advisory committee on maritime transportation, according to a release from the city. 

Tindall-Schlicht was named to the Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the release shows. The committee includes leaders of businesses, trade associations, state and local government, labor groups, as well as academic and environmental organizations. 

Along with this new role, Tindall-Schlicht is also president of the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association and a commissioner on the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and on the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

“From addressing supply chain challenges to recovering from the pandemic, this is a critical time in our country and I’m eager to get to work,” he said in the release. 

See the release: 


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– Milk production rose slightly in Wisconsin during May

– After a month of no new bird flu cases, Wisconsin lifts order prohibiting poultry shows ahead of county fair season


– Construction starts continue to climb, but slowdown may be looming for specific sectors


– BUILDING BLOCKS: Yahara Solar Project


– SSM Health receives first round of Pfizer vaccines for children 6 months to 4 years old

– Taycheedah boosts mental health efforts for incarcerated women


– Here’s how much of Milwaukee’s housing market investors bought in the first quarter


– Milwaukee-based EmPower HR acquired by Phoenix-based HR company


– Johnson Controls opening 100-employee facility in Rio Grande Valley

– Briggs & Stratton names new CFO


– Wisconsin Republican lawmakers reject abortion ban repeal

– Wisconsin Republicans reject Evers’ effort to repeal abortion ban


– Marquette University sells land to developers for soccer stadium, performance hall

– Milwaukee-based Keiding to open second facility, in Menomonee Falls


– Gov. Evers signs order prohibiting fuel price gouging as Biden calls for federal gas tax holiday


– Franchise Group could keep Kohl’s leaders in place: Reuters


– Pop-up show to offer small businesses a chance to connect, gain exposure; shoppers welcome

– Cowboys Pro Bowler and hometown friend connect their Green Bay startup to Marvel Multiverse


– Milwaukee Brewers open to developing stadium real estate as group sales lag


– Lake Andrea Beach in Pleasant Prairie gets four electric watercraft for event safety


– Gas prices drop slightly as the price of oil declines; the price for a gallon of regular is still hovering around $5


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