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Critics Slam Deal for Naming Rights to New Bucks Arena

Andy Berg

The Milwaukee Bucks' new arena is set to open later this summer and some are already crying foul over taxpayer monies being kicked back to the facility’s namesake. 

According to Deadspin, banking software company Fiserv, which recently announced a 25-year agreement to name the new arena Fiserv Forum, will absorb $12.5 million in public subsidies as part of a deal aimed at keeping the company’s headquarters in Wisconsin.

State senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middelton) voted against the deal. Erpenbach said the deal makes the legislature look “foolish” as well as governor Scott Walker. “Maybe the state can sell naming rights on that new (Fiserv) headquarters and get some of the money back,” Erpenbach joked.

The irony of the agreement lies in the fact that taxpayers, who have already contributed $250 million to build the arena, will essentially be footing a portion of what Fiserv pays for naming rights.

Rick Esenberg, president and founder of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, admitted taxpayers may have questions about the deal. “Fiserv did get a big gift from taxpayers to do what it almost certainly would have done anyway," Esenberg said "That doesn't have much to do with the deal — I assume they're paying what the naming rights are worth — but it's hard to defend free market policies when politicians create the impression that the government is playing favorites. We'd all be better off if there were real constraints on the ability of government to make gifts to private parties." 

Fiserv, which was reportedly being aggressively recruited by another state for relocation, made $1.2 billion in profits from $5.7 billion in revenue in 2017.

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