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Future of Milwaukee's Mitchell Park Domes still uncertain 8 years after falling concrete was first spotted

The problem came to a head in 2016 when crumbling concrete up to the size of a tennis ball was falling from as high as 80 feet.
Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 13:32:37-04

UPDATE: Thursday night the American Rescue Plan Act Task Force rejected $19 million for the Mitchell Park Domes rehabilitation project.

Guy Smith, the Milwaukee County Parks Executive Director, said there were a lot of other asks, the big one being a new Forensic Science Center. He also said the committee wanted to have a full plan in place and not piecemeal. He said the $19 million is now going toward the $20 million the medical examiner’s office asked for (for the Forensic Center). Learn more here.

MILWAUKEE -- Nearly eight years after concrete started falling from the ceiling of Milwaukee's Mitchell Park Domes, we wanted to follow up and see what the future looks like.

We share the challenges the county faces as the cost of repairs climb.

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The problem came to a head in 2016 when crumbling concrete up to the size of a tennis ball was falling from as high as 80 feet. County leaders came up with a $500,000 fix to wrap the concrete wire with mesh.


But the fix was temporary. Eight years ago, an engineering firm hired by the county estimated rebuilding the domes completely would cost $64 million.

The Milwaukee County Parks Director says the cost today would be about $100 million.

"It's a challenge, but I have $500 million in deferred maintenance in Milwaukee County Parks that's not even the county as a whole," said Guy Smith, Milwaukee County Parks Executive Director. "If we're going to repair the facility as it currently is we need to do all of it and we should do it all at once."

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley says the Domes do not qualify for historic landmark tax breaks to fix because it is owned by the government. He says it could come down to taxpayers.

"Add a one percent sales tax to the current sales tax and that sales tax gets to stay directly right here within Milwaukee County," he said.

That idea would have to be approved by our state legislature in Madison.

For now, the parks may soon receive $19 million to go towards repairing the windows of the Domes with extra federal relief funds given to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act. But that amount may be just a drop in the bucket.

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