A proposed downtown Milwaukee pro soccer stadium and a Black-oriented arts facility planned for the Bronzeville neighborhood will be getting more than $14 million in public funds − money Republican legislators removed from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ budget.
Evers said the funds for the Iron District stadium and the Bronzeville Center for the Arts will be provided through federal American Rescue Plan Act cash distributed to Wisconsin by the Biden administration.
The soccer stadium will get $9.3 million.
The 8,000-seat stadium would be part of the Iron District, a $220 million development that initially included an indoor concert venue and hotel on 11 acres west of North Sixth Street and south of West Michigan Street.
The concert venue plan has been dropped. But S.R. Mills, chief executive officer of Kenosha-based Bear Development LLC, is still pursing other plans, including a stadium to house a minor league USL Championship team.
Kacmarcik Enterprises owner Jim Kacmarcik hopes to have the team operating by the 2025 season.
“Having the backing of the governor’s office and the state will provide important momentum for bringing the Iron District Milwaukee to fruition and delivering a catalytic development,” Kacmarcik said, in a statement Thursday.
“We want to thank Gov. Tony Evers and his administration for believing in our vision and this project,” he said.
The USL Championship is the second-highest tier of professional soccer in the United States. The league has 27 clubs in such markets as Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Detroit and Indianapolis.
The stadium also would host Marquette University’s men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams as well as community events, recreational programs and other athletic uses. Those Marquette teams now play at the university’s Valley Fields facility, where they would continue to practice.
Meanwhile, Bear Development is building affordable apartments at the development site’s western end.
The arts center is to receive $5 million.
The African-American arts and cultural facility is planned for the site of the former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources office, 2300 N. King Dr.
The nonprofit Bronzeville Center for the Arts bought the property from the state in 2022 for $1.6 million. The group plans to demolish it and build a 50,000-square-foot facility for exhibitions, education and immersive artistic programming.
“We are grateful to Gov. Evers for his continued support of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts and our vision for a destination arts museum that increases our collective knowledge of and engagement with African American art, art history and artists,” said Kristen Hardy, the group’s chair.
“As we continue the design process and evaluate community feedback, this announcement is a major step toward making our vision a reality,” she said in a statement.
The group also plans to open its Gallery 507 art gallery, at 507 W. North Ave., in 2024.
Evers on Thursday also announced grants of $15 million for the Janesville Sports and Convention Center; $7 million for the Green Bay National Railroad Museum expansion, and $330,000 for the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre upgrades.
The five grants total $36.6 million.
Evers’ office said the developments are projected to support over 400 jobs and nearly $68 million in economic activity. That estimate is based on an economic impact study conducted by Associated General Contractors, an industry trade group.
“These five projects will have a long-term impact on our state’s economy and on economic development in these communities from Green Bay to Janesville,” Evers said in a statement.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.