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Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

* The push is on

The leader of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority said Tuesday that the agency has solved a seemingly intractable puzzle: How to purchase and renovate Wrigley Field without using any state or local tax dollars.

“We are working on a proposal to present to Tribune Co. that will allow ISFA to acquire and fully restore Wrigley Field, as well as add parking and neighborhood improvements, without using any public tax money, either state or local,” said former Gov. James Thompson, chairman of the agency.

The bid will be delivered “shortly,” Thompson said.

* So, how will it be financed?

[Thompson] would only say what the new plan would not include: “No PSLs [personal seat licenses] . . . No sales tax. No amusement tax. No McCormick Place [restaurant] tax. No taxes of any kind. I know that will disappoint the Sun-Times editorial board. But it’s the best I can do,” he said.

“Obviously, a deal done without tax money has a better chance of being approved than a deal based on tax money. Now the Sun-Times editorial board will be for it, right?”

Even if no tax money is directly used, the impact on state and local tax coffers should also be examined. Zell is a financial wizard when it comes to taxes and Mother Tribune is no slouch either. Will this involve some sort of tax break for Zell?

* Thompson did offer this hint

Thompson hesitated when asked if his new plan would rely on the controversial sale of naming rights to the 94-year-old shrine of Major League Baseball.

Tribune CEO Sam Zell’s plan to sell naming rights to Wrigley to generate as much as $400 million over 20 years has met with stiff resistance from baseball purists and die-hard Cub fans. “I would say yes. But we would look for a naming rights deal that does not displace Wrigley Field.'’

I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but there will be a real problem convincing legislators to vote for a bill that would change the name or look of Wrigley Field.

* Thompson wouldn’t say how much the state would offer to pay for the decrepit ball park, but he did manage an Olympics tie-in, which is something that everybody is doing in Chicago these days…

Getting a deal done “will show the Olympic committee that we know how to do these things in Chicago,” [Thompson] said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


22 Comments
  1. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    Go Cubsss!


  2. - Carlos - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    OH! Let’s trust Jim Thompson, this is the guy trying very hard to hide Blago’s corrupt schemes.


  3. - The Doc - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:04 am:

    Ah, there it is - Big Jim throwing out the Olympics bait, hoping that Daley will go for it hook, line, and sinker. Not sure why the IOC would give a hoot if the stadium is owned by the state or a private entity. Bottom line - the ISFA is 0-for-2 with The Cell and Soldiers Field - why would the GA green light the Wrigley deal?


  4. - Rod sez I'm pork - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:13 am:

    Getting a deal done “will show the Olympic committee that we know how to do these things in Chicago,” [Thompson] said.

    How we do things in Chicago? It just took me an hour to drive 5 miles on Lake Shore Drive, the surface of which resembles that of the moon. No thank you.


  5. - Leave a light on George - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    The Rezko trial is the best current example of how we do things in Chicago.


  6. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    “I would say yes. But…”

    That’s saying, ‘No’, isn’t it!


  7. - taxing tom - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:24 am:

    No cost to taxpayers huh?? Big Jim’s latest scheme would, among other things, take the ball park off the property tax roles. So who then gets left with picking up that lost revenue — all us already over property taxed homeowners.


  8. - Vote Quimby - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    They are going to start auctioning off the 7th-inning stretch to the highest bidder, instead of relying on A+++-list celebrities like Jason Priestly and the WAAAZ-UP guys.


  9. - curious george - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:39 am:

    Can you say MARS Wrigly Field. Courtesy of Warren Buffet


  10. - Capitol View - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:40 am:

    I still wonder where the parking will go - parking fees will be a part of the mix of revenues. The charm of the Wrigleyville neighborhood is still threatened by state emanent domain, for parking lot purposes. Wrigleyville may be destroyed for three or four square blocks for that parking.

    The naming game is also at The Cell. The “field” has one name, the stadium the other. So the Cubs may still be playing “on” Wrigley Field, but the new facility may be Viagra Park or some other zany name.


  11. - curious george - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:42 am:

    opps… M&M MARS Wrigley Field


  12. - BannedForLife - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    “No taxes of any kind.”

    whenever I hear pronouncements like this, I have to remind myself these spinmeisters don’t consider incremental taxes taxes, the implied qualifier “EXISTING taxes” was has been elided


  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:54 am:

    I think at this point, anything that comes to the GA before the election, especially if its backed by Blago, will get beat like a rented mule.


  14. - Captain America - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 11:00 am:

    Just say no!


  15. - Crystal Clear - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 11:24 am:

    As much as I love the Olympics and would love for them to come to Chicago, the worst thing that could happen is that Chicago is awarded the Olympics.

    The Olympics card will be played for every tax increase for the next 10 years for Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois. I said 10 years, because after the Olympics are over in 2016, additional tax increases will be needed to pay for the money lost for hosting the Olympics.

    As an aside, I recently visited Lillehammer where the 1994 Winter Olympics were held. They still have a number of grossly under used and over capacity facilities. In discussion, with the people there in Lillehammer most of the cost was underwritten buy the federal Norwegian government. That won’t be the case in Chicago.

    Finally, the public transit system there is unbelievably efficient. The buses and trains are exceptionally clean and timely. If the schedule says 9:32, the train pulls in at 9:31 and leaves at 9:33. The millions of dollars recently thrown at the RTA and CTA will only continue the malfeasance and corruption.

    The best thing that could happen to us, is the IOC quickly name another site and we can stop this nonsense.


  16. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 11:52 am:

    Seems like one moment spent trying to increase the scope if the IFSA is a waste of taxpayers funds.

    It is a fraud being perpetrated on the taxpayers of Illinois and there is no one out there who will stop it.

    Don’t the power that be realized that any repurposing of the revenue streams coming out of the citizenry is a tax increase?

    I think they do and don’t care.


  17. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 11:55 am:

    The sale to Mars gives Bill Wrigley enough cash flow to buy back the team himself. That way he gets to keep the name.

    Any deal which goes down should have the Sports Authority making a payment in lieu of taxes passed through by the lessee.

    Raise your hand if you think Big Jim is working pro bono for the good of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois?


  18. - jerry 101 - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 12:14 pm:

    Hmmm…mysterious scheme put together by Zell’s buddy Thompson that will be “proposed” by the ISFA to TribCo today…

    Why is my first thought, “Taxpayers be ready to drop you pants and…(well, this is a family site)”?

    Quit trying to make my tax dollars subsidize that rich old jerk.


  19. - Hickory - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 1:24 pm:

    I suggest that the current independent contractors(Cub players) be required to either purchase or lease the field. Most businesses own or lease the property where they work. The people of Illinois can not afford the field.


  20. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 1:32 pm:

    I say Great!!!! They Have done such a GREAT job keeping up the Stratton Building, JRTC and all other State buildings, I am sure they will do the same kind of job on Wrigley……..Oh, wait April Fools Day is over!!


  21. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 5:45 pm:

    The darn IFSA was created to give our “BIG JIM” something to do. It never existed until his pal the “guv” pulled it out of his little pointed hat and installed him in the “special seat”. Besides, I sure that Jimmy will decorate it very tastefully - he has such a talent in that area. And of course, as expected, he threw in the OLYMPIC card. As to where the money is going to come from - Well, maybe Ali Ata and Rezko had a few black garbage bags of trash left from their last Blago drop? The thing that confuses me is why the heck is a resident of Wisconsin the head of ANYTHING here in Illinois?


  22. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 6:06 pm:

    We are down to the First scene in the final act. Zell sets a deal to sell the team to someone who threatens to move from Wiggily.

    The Ball Yard will be deconstructed and a huge outlet mall will be but in in its place…heh, heh, heh.

    Swinging in on a heavily reinforced rope comes Superhero Jim to save the day for all the poor tavern owners in the area and the guts who make cash money selling driveway and lawn parking.

    “I know what we’ll do, we can put a casino in the cavernous areas between outer walls and fields. Daley-Blago hump an extra license through their pet legislature. “Bud Selig objects, we will keep our games of chance shut down while the Cubbies are playing theirs. Except for the private boxes, of course.”

    It is a done deal, gang. There is too much meat a’cooking, for law firms, Special K and Al Ronan to do the lobbying, etc., etc..


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