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Subsidizing Wrigley

Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

* Jim Thompson called yesterday to bust my chops about something. I gave as good as I got, as you might imagine, but it was mostly in fun. I really let the profanity fly, though, about his goofy idea to have the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority buy Wrigley Field and then lease it back to the billionaire(s) who buy(s) the team from the Tribune Co.

One of Big Jim’s arguments was to point out that the state helped subsidize the Soldier Field renovation (a publicly owned stadium, by the way), helped build the United Center and, of course, there was that White Sox deal that Thompson, himself, played such a large role in bringing to fruition. So why not help the Cubs?

What I didn’t know at the time was that taxpayers are already subsidizing the Cubs. From Mark Brown’s column today

I can’t tell you what Wrigley Field is really worth, but I can tell you what the team claimed it was worth earlier this year in an appraisal submitted to the Cook County assessor’s office: $12.3 million.

Yep, that’s all, barely more than the $7.9 million that former Sox slugger Frank Thomas got on the sale of his Oak Brook mansion a few years ago, or almost equal to the $12 million the Cubs will pay new Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome for his salary for each of the next four seasons.

The assessment was submitted to Cook County Assessort Jim Houlihan, whose own laughably low assessment of just $20.5 million ought to be remembered by every property tax payer in the county whenever they write that annual tax check.

And how much did the Cubs pay in property taxes this year? $1,151,487, according to Brown.

The park is essentially off the roles, no matter how much Mother Tribune whines about its assessment. The team is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers. They don’t need and shouldn’t get another subsidy.

* More from the Rockford Register-Star

If the state were paying its bills on time, if its roads were in decent shape with a long-term plan for keeping them that way, if its school system had a fair method of doling out tax dollars and if there were adequate funding for mass transit systems, maybe — maybe — we could find some merit in this plan.

Yet all we see is another error in the score book.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Garp - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 10:51 am:

    Big Jim’s arguement seems to be, the tax payers are getting pillaged at all the other stadiums so why not Wrigley? I guess your answer to him today is that the tax payers are getting pillaged at Wrigley so he can relax and sleep tonight.

  2. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    I pay more in taxes on a 1900 sq foot - two bedroom condo a mile away. WTF?

  3. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    If, as a result of your tireless and misguided campaign against the State getting Wrigley field for free, there become separate owners for Wrigley Field and the Cubs, and then a lease dispute erupts, and the Cubs play hardball - saying they don’t have to play in Wrigley - and then they move to Schaumburg or (heaven forbid) Comiskey, then I will personally find you, tie you up, and force you to drink Old Style from a plastic cup until the Cubs return to Wrigley.

    Mark my words.

  4. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    Broken Heart - you pay $1 million in taxes a year on your condo? No wonder you are so grumpy!

  5. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    Oops, my bad, missed the extra comma in the numbers. Sorry. lol

  6. - Macbeth - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:06 am:

    Yeah, and we all know how *wonderful* the new Soldier Field is.

    (That’s sarcastic, BTW. The new soldier field looks awful and is an awful, awful stadium for football.)

  7. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:07 am:

    Actually, from the inside, Soldier Field is a fantastic stadium for playing and watching football.

    From the outside….


    go bears!

  8. - ptabski - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    need to ensure that the assessment they have quoted is not simply the 1/3 property value that is taxed….

  9. - publius - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:20 am:

    i think if you examine the building of united center you will find that it was done with private money

  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:23 am:

    ===need to ensure that the assessment they have quoted is not simply the 1/3 property value that is taxed===

    I’m sure it is. But that would still be a huge lowball and a giant subsidy.

  11. - enrico depressario - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    Can’t wait for Fitzgerald to write Big Jim’s ticket to Wisconsin. The shareholders of Hollinger got the same treatment as your average Illinois taxpayer from Big Jim—screwed.

  12. - bored now - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:42 am:

    i’m all for the state buying wrigley for $12.3M. hell, if people object to state ownership, i’ll buy it for $12.3M…

  13. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 11:47 am:

    bored - they are talking about buying it for far less than that - $1.

  14. - MOON - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 12:29 pm:

    Wrigley Field is grossly under assessed, resulting in the form of subsidy by Assessor Houlihan. Houlihan is totally incompetent. He increases the home owners assessed value far greater than needed, resulting in higher taxes then runs to Springfield seeking cover with what he calls ” The 7% Solution”. Then he has the gall to blame the legislatures when they refuse to bail him out of the problem he created.

    Mr. Houlihan, you created this mess, now you are subsidizing the millionaires who own Wrigley Field, all at the expense of the home owners.It’s time for Houlihan to pack it in……Quit or retire. You have been a miserable failure!!!!!

  15. - Prairie Sage - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 12:57 pm:

    Rich, you should ask Brown if he owes you and your commenters a hat-tip. We discussed the property tax issue — with many of the same numbers — earlier this week.

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 1:06 pm:

    GoBearsss, odds are you’ll be moving to the ‘burbs anyway.

    It’s the Cubbie Blue Triangle of Life…

    Grow up in the suburbs. Attend the U of I. Move to “Wrigleyville.” Get married to a Cub fan. Move to the suburbs. Raise kids who go to the U of I, etc. :)

  17. - Just Observing - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 1:11 pm:

    I’m not an apologist for the Assessor’s office, but in all fairness ALL assessed values are below market rate — even single family homes. It is not an accurate assessment of the true value — and it really doesn’t matter if everything else is under-assessed too.

  18. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 1:12 pm:

    Or the Sox Fan way of life -

    Grow up in the suburbs. Stay in the suburbs. Get married to your kin. Stay in the suburbs. Drive in to Comiskey, ignore “Comiskeyville”, and pretend you are “from Chicago.”

    Raise kids who attach first base coaches, etc.


  19. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    BTW - I didn’t grow up in the suburbs. I don’t plan on moving to the suburbs. I didn’t go to the UofI. I didn’t marry a cubs fan (but she is one now!).

    But, I understand your characterization. When you have millions upon millions of fans, it is expected to have some bad apples.

  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 1:19 pm:

    LOL. Touche.

  21. - Borden's Frosty Malt - Thursday, Dec 20, 07 @ 5:28 pm:

    I just read from Crain’s that Zell is considering selling the naming rights for Wrigley Field.

    Maybe he could sell them to the W.W. Wrigley Company, in which case it could be called Wrigley’s Wrigley Field.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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