Sports’ Modern Era Began 71 Years Ago Today

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Milwaukee Braves owner in the 1950s.

Perini’s move opened the floodgates for sports owners to seek publicly financed stadiums or arenas.

Seventy-one years ago today, Lou Perini moved his Boston Braves National League baseball team to Milwaukee and changed how sports operated. Perini took his business to a stadium that was funded by taxpayers and got a sweetheart lease. Sports’ owners found out that cities would pay to get their businesses into their towns. In 1950, Milwaukee politicians approved funding for the construction of a park with taxpayers’ money. The idea was simple. The stadium would be used in an attempt to land a Major League Baseball team and keep the Green Bay Packers National Football League franchise in town for a couple games a year. Milwaukee had hoped to get the Packers’ Board of Directors to agree that Milwaukee should get all Packers’ games. Green Bay put up money for a Packers’ stadium in 1956. In 1952 Perini’s Boston Braves sold only 281,278 tickets to 77 home games. Perini considered moving to Toronto but settled on Milwaukee after St. Louis Browns’ owner Bill Veeck planned to move his Browns to the city. The American League blocked Veeck’s move. Perini had a business tie to Milwaukee, he owned the American Association’s Milwaukee Brewers, his Triple A farm team. On March 13th, Perini announced his intentions to take the Milwaukee offer. On March 18th, the National League owners approved the transfer.

Perini began making money. Small market Milwaukee outperformed big market Brooklyn in attendance and that started the wheels in motion that eventually would lead Walter O’Malley to Los Angeles. O’Malley concluded that Brooklyn could not compete with Milwaukee if his Dodgers’ team was stuck in Ebbets Field.  The Braves’ business would move to Atlanta in 1966 to a municipally funded stadium. The Atlanta franchise has been housed in three publicly financed stadiums. Milwaukee would get an MLB team in 1970. Milwaukee would eventually build a taxpayers’ funded venue to keep the Brewers business in town.

County Stadium, Milwaukee

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