The Green Bay Packers organization has come out against a recent proposal to disband the Lambeau Field Stadium District.
Republican representative David Steffen’s proposal would eliminate the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District and its seven-member board, which co-owns Lambeau Field with the Green Bay Packers and the city.
Steffen proposed the transfer of all assets and liabilities of the district to the city of Green Bay, except for the $81 million set aside for operations and maintenance of the stadium through 2031. That money, Steffen proposes, would be redistributed to Brown County property owners and businesses.
For their part, the Packers say the proposal would require the creation of significant legislation and would break the lease between the Packers, the city and the board — entities that the team said work well together.
"Rep. Steffen's legislation would position them instead as adversaries, as they would be forced to sort out who would be responsible to make up the operations and maintenance funding deficit. The proposed legislation is unwise public policy for that reason alone," Aaron Popkey, Packers public affairs director, told the Green Bay Press Gazette. "It would constitute a breach of trust and illegal evisceration of the Lambeau Field lease. It would leave no choice other than immediate major litigation to prevent it from taking effect."
Steffen explained his plan to the city’s Finance Committee, but there is little chance it would become law this year. Steffen plans to reintroduce the plan in January 2023.
The district was created back in 2003 when Lambeau Field was renovated. Steffen argues that the district completed all of its legislative duties back in 2015 and should thus be disbanded. Steffen says the $81 million accrued through a half-cent sales tax would be redistributed to Brown County homeowners in $700 checks and any additional monies would then be given to Brown County, Green Bay, Ashwaubenon, the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation.
Steffen says the $81 million would replaced by redirecting the 10 percent Lambeau Field tax to the city, which would then be responsible for reimbursing the team for maintenance costs.
The changes could jeopardize money the Packers receive from the NFL for improvements to Lambeau Field.
"The NFL would not approve money to go into the stadium if not for the (financial) structure that is in place. If that were to go away, that could jeopardize our ability to get additional funds," Popkey said, lamenting what the proposed plan would do to relationships that currently work well.
"What is disappointing is that one state assemblyman can potentially drive a wedge in a relationship that has been so successful. What he is proposing is bad for the city, the community, Lambeau Field and the Packers," Popkey said after the meeting.