* 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.