Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers which opened a couple-three years back, sits on a site in the Menomonie Valley on the city's west side. The State of Wisconsin owns the land, and the Legislative Audit Bureau just issued a report recommending that the parking lots be developed with commercial uses. The stadium is surrounded by 12,500 surface parking stalls covering 275 acres.
In reality, the stadium never should have been built where it is. It belongs near downtown, where the "entertainment district" already exists. Placing it downtown was discussed at the time, and rejected for several reasons, which ultimately boil down to the Menomonie Valley site being easy to assemble and close to the highway system. So here are the issues:
1) The City of Milwaukee wants to redevelop the Menomonie Valley as an indistrict, and has fought commercial development in the area.
2) A new commercial center - retail and entertainment - will draw customers from existing ones including the downtown that is now making good headway in its efforts to renew and redevelop itself.
3) Commercial space is in strong demand around the stadium. The neighboring city has welcomed it. Private developers attempted to develop land they own next to the stadium, but the City of Milwaukee refused to rezone it from industrial. It went to court, and the City eventually purchased the property.
4) The Brewers' payroll is at the bottom of the league, and the team is for sale. It could leave the state, or the new owners may need a source of income. Redeveloping the parking lots could help in that area.
5) Entertainment around a stadium makes sense. Without it, visitors to the city merely come to the game and then leave. Restaurants, bars, and retailers around the stadium would capture sales that otherwise might not happen or would happen elsewhere outside of the city. The city's revenues from sales taxes would increase.
6) Milwaukee is built out. Where is new industrial development to go? The Menomonie Valley has been an industrial district and even has the environmental contamination to prove it.
In short, we have a city that wants industrial uses and a market that demands commercial uses. It is a self-made problem that might have been avoided by siting the stadium where it really belongs. What should the city do now?