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White Sox’s Jerry Reinsdorf pitches Springfield lawmakers on South Loop ballpark

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ABC Chicago

Reinsdorf met with Democrat and Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, the so-called “Four Tops,” to make his case. He was joined by a team of advisors and developers from Related Midwest, the company behind the new stadium design.

Reinsdorf met first with House Republicans, then brought his entourage into House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s office. After, he said it had been a “very thoughtful discussion” and emphasized he remains positive, but said he didn’t have anything to talk about at this stage about any funding from the state. […]

Lawmakers that we spoke to were also skeptical of the appetite of lawmakers to help.

“Honestly, I’m gobsmacked that he actually has the gall to come here and ask for money at a time when we are struggling on a million different levels when our revenue shortfall is projected to be about what he’s asking for,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

* Sun-Times

Sidestepping questions about what he asked for, Reinsdorf said, “everyone’s been very cordial. We’ve had very thoughtful discussions.

“I’m always positive about everything. I’m even positive about the White Sox winning the division,” he said of his team — which enters the 2024 season widely expected to be a bottom-dweller in the American League Central. […]

In a statement, Welch thanked Reinsdorf “for coming down to discuss his vision in person. There are a lot of conversations that still need to be had, but I appreciate the opportunity to discuss future goals for Chicago teams.”

Through a spokesman, Harmon said: “It’s still early innings.”

* Tribune

“We haven’t asked for anything,” the 87-year-old Reinsdorf told reporters after leaving the office of Republican Senate leader John Curran of Downers Grove.

“At an appropriate time, everybody will speak up. Now is not the appropriate time,” he said. “We’re not going to give out any internal bulletins.” […]

He said he didn’t know if any legislation would be filed during the spring session pertaining to his proposal. When asked about the specifics of his request to lawmakers, Reinsdorf replied, “Come on, that’s enough fellas.”

“I don’t mean to be evasive,” he said. “Everybody’s been very cordial.”

* WTTW

Neither the White Sox nor Related Midwest referenced specifics about the prospective financing in statements released Tuesday about their joint trip to the statehouse.

“We appreciated the time afforded to us by lawmakers in Springfield today,” Related Midwest said in a statement. “As we shared in the meetings, The 78 is a generational development and an investment in our hometown. It’s personal to us and we are excited about the prospect of delivering the city’s next great neighborhood, while making an historic economic investment that will bring over 10,000 construction jobs and 22,000 permanent jobs to our city and state.”

The Sox said in a statement that the team is “excited to share our vision, and we appreciate their (the legislative leaders’) time and hospitality.”

“We recognize discussions about The 78 serving as the future home of the Chicago White Sox have generated a lot of excitement over the potential of the larger project’s positive economic impact,” the team’s statement reads. “We are mindful and respectful of the legislative process and wanted to travel to Springfield to meet personally with legislative leaders.”

       

35 Comments
  1. - Former Downstater - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:26 am:

    Not one damn penny.

    The Sox are worth $2.05 billion and Jerry himself is worth $2.4 billion?

    You want a new stadium, Jerry? Pay for it yourself. Don’t want to pay for it, sell the team! That’s what most Sox fans want anyway.

    This country spends far too much money on welfare for billionaires.


  2. - Jibba - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:31 am:

    “We haven’t asked for anything.” Unbelievable (in both senses). And when “an appropriate time” comes up, my answer is still no. He’s still looking for a backroom deal that can be done without the public knowing.


  3. - Former state worker - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:37 am:

    Ignoring the JR comment, what are they asking for? An extension of the hotel tax?


  4. - OH - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:43 am:

    Setting aside any discussion on the merits of the proposal, sending Reinsdorf to Springfield makes absolutely no sense strategically. He is one of the most unpopular and unsympathetic figures in the state of Illinois. I assume it was Reinsdorf himself who wanted to make the trip and his lobbying team couldn’t talk him out of it, but whomever thought it was a good idea just killed any momentum the project had.

    It’s his franchise, so I get he’s got to be part of the effort, but he should be way behind the scenes while the Related Midwest developer (who has a lot of political experience) or the unions, or absolutely anyone else, runs point.


  5. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:44 am:

    “I’m even positive about the White Sox winning the division”

    Reinsdorf has always struggled to conceal his arrogance and contempt for the marks I mean customers, but in his dotage he no longer makes the effort.
    I do appreciate him tacitly admitting his product is garbage though.


  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:53 am:

    ===Setting aside any discussion on the merits of the proposal, sending Reinsdorf to Springfield makes absolutely no sense strategically.===

    As I wrote on another post: In my experience over the years, things like this aren’t necessarily staff’s fault beyond their enabling of the principal’s behavior.


  7. - TJ - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:01 am:

    This is more DOA than the general assembly voting for a state holiday entitled “Rod Blagojevich Day.”


  8. - Colin O'Scopy - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:03 am:

    Folks, I think we’re being played as dupes here.

    Mr. Reinsdorf doesn’t really want a new stadium nor does he want to keep his team in Chicago (although if a miracle of miracle happens and he gets taxpayer money to build a new stadium in Chicago, he might stay. Might.)

    To paraphrase a line from “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Mr. Potter isn’t buying, he’s selling.”

    Mr. Potter wants the Illinois General Assembly and/or the Governor to tank this deal so he can point a boney finger at them and say, “see? They made me sell the team to a Nashville group.”

    In short, Mr. Potter is legacy-burnishing. But make no mistake, Mr. Potter is going to Nashville.


  9. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:07 am:

    Doesn’t appear he’s getting good counsel, but even if he were, no evidence he’d take it.

    Surely, no one thought wearing a leather jacket, print shirt and slacks like he was headed for lunch at the osteria was a good look, right? But didn’t have the [you know] to say it to him.

    Literally everyone he was meeting with was formally attired in suits and ties, or the equivalent for women.

    Even his clothing choice communicated a lack of respect and massive entitlement.


  10. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:08 am:

    ‘This is more DOA than the general assembly voting for a state holiday entitled “Rod Blagojevich Day.”’

    I sense a meme here… “This is more DOA than Blago’s Gross Receipts Tax bill.”


  11. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:09 am:

    N.O.P.E.

    Not One Penny, Ever.

    – MrJM


  12. - New Day - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:12 am:

    My offer to you, Jerry, is nothing. And I’d like you to pay for the gaming license. You and I are part of the same hypocrisy.


  13. - ChicagoVinny - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:19 am:

    I was listening to a SoxMachine podcast interview with Justin Laurence from Crain’s, and I didn’t realize Related Midwest already has half a billion in TIF money lined up for infrastructure for that site.

    It makes the ask for one billion more even more galling.


  14. - Amalia - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:32 am:

    is kelly cassidy still going to Cubs games and giving money to the Ricketts? all the dough doesn’t just go to Laura.


  15. - Colin O'Scopy - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:38 am:

    Rich, have I been blocked?

    Colin


  16. - Next Stop Pottersville - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:44 am:

    O’Scopy has a great angle on this whole situation. I hope he is right. It has been much more of a chore than a pass time to be a Sox fan the past decade, I welcome the sale and look forward to routing on the Cardinals for years to come.


  17. - Pundent - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:51 am:

    Billionaire owner asks public to chip in to build luxury suites for millionaires.


  18. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    Jerry has made some good choices. In 1981 he bought the Sox for $19 million. Now the team seems to be worth a little more than $2 billion.

    Now its up to the state to make a good choice.


  19. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:30 pm:

    I don’t understand the political animosity toward Reinsdorf.

    The Ricketts’ behavior has been outlandish, trying to take out the alderman for Wrigleyville, backing Trump right through the insurrection.

    The Blackhawks actively covered up sex abuse on their team.

    The Bears have been trying to play municipalities against each other to extort the taxpayers.

    Don’t even get me started on Northwestern.

    I would say Reinsdorf’s plan has a better than 50% shot. He met with Aldermen and seems to have cleared that hurdle. Meeting with legislative leaders seemed like the next logical step, and i think that coming to springfield and meeting in person was smart. It shows humility, deference, and that he is doing things out in the open. That builds trust, and trust is what gets you to an agreement.


  20. - Jerry - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:41 pm:

    Reinsdorph wants another handout. He already got one. The state doesn’t have a billion dollars to give to a billionaire. That’s the animosity.


  21. - Motambe - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:46 pm:

    The Governor is politically distancing himself from this issue. Defer to the GA to do the heavy lifting and take the political heat. If it all works out he can sign the legislation and say he is abiding by the will of the people’s representatives. And he avoids being labeled as a tax and spend Governor, or one who bows to special interests. This is crucial for a potential Biden replacement on the Democratic ticket. Or VP.
    And if the deal collapses and the Sox say bye bye Chicago, hello Nashville, then the GA is at fault, or more likely “reached a sound and fiscally responsible decision” not to invest taxpayer dollars in a private enterprise. The Governor is not to blame.


  22. - Pundent - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:49 pm:

    =I don’t understand the political animosity toward Reinsdorf.=

    I wouldn’t infer that the animosity is directed solely at Reinsdorf. He’s simply the guy making the ask at the moment and the public doesn’t have much if any appetite for this. I would expect any other owner to receive similar treatment.


  23. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:02 pm:

    =He is one of the most unpopular and unsympathetic figures in the state of Illinois.=

    Disagree. His teams have won 7 championships. The cubs (1 in the last 115 years), Bears (1), and Blackhawks (3) combined have not won 7 in the time that Reinsdorf has owned the Sox and Bulls.

    I am not saying he is the most popular owner, but he is the most successful. What has happened with the Sox of late is painful as a lifelong Sox fan.

    That said, I am still a HARD NO on any public money of any kind for sports teams.

    If that means the teams I follow leave, then that is how it goes. The NFL and MLB would quickly fill the void with ownership that has more resources.


  24. - Former Downstater - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:16 pm:

    @Thomas Paine, fair points.

    Although my answer to any of those team’s request for public funding is the same: Not one damn penny.

    And I’m actually a fan of several of those teams.


  25. - ChicagoVinny - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:22 pm:

    =I don’t understand the political animosity toward Reinsdorf.=

    Why assume its animosity and not just a general distaste of public handouts for billionaires?


  26. - Amalia - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:28 pm:

    Thomas Paine has a good….and sad…list. Sox fans got angry with the strike year and how the owner played into that. we coulda had a trophy. but, yes, the animosity towards Reinsdorf is out of bounds.


  27. - Bogey Golfer - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:48 pm:

    Agree with the prior posters who stated this is a ploy so that when the GA nixes any handout to Reinsdorf, he can then go to Nashville. He played Tampa-St. Pete back 35 years ago, he’s doing it again.


  28. - Fitz - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 2:02 pm:

    Call me a skeptic on the Nashville angle. That’s the prime target for an expansion franchise, which will have to pay all the other owner something like a $3 billion entry fee. I don’t think the 29 other MLB owners are gonna screw that up by allowing Reinsdorf to move there for free.


  29. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 2:19 pm:

    =I don’t understand the political animosity toward Reinsdorf.=

    You’ve seen how few people here are ready to give the Bears any public money to stay.

    The Cubs funded their own rebuild of Wrigley Field.

    Rocky is no longer with us, and it wasn’t a cheerful exit for him after his last public blow up on the cover up.


  30. - Sam Tenenbaum - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 3:06 pm:

    He should have been there instead of southside originally. Gave in to Daley. But giving up one billion in tax revenues is ridiculous. Frankly he would be better off moving to Nashville.


  31. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 3:30 pm:

    - I don’t understand the political animosity toward Reinsdorf. -

    Yes, it’s a huge mystery why some of us don’t get warm fuzzies when billionaires who already got a massive handout that made them a lot of money come asking for another.


  32. - Roadrager - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 3:38 pm:

    There is also the matter of Reinsdorf, through the surrogates who run his sports teams, transitioning from treating the fan bases with apathy to outright contempt over the last 15 to 20 years.

    Jason Benetti’s not funny and he’s too popular. He’s gotta go.

    We can also go back to his intentional ruining of the best season most Sox fans had seen in their lives in 1994, “Anyone who thinks this team can catch Cleveland is crazy” in 1997, and deciding keeping Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman was too expensive in 1998, then taking the wheel of the bus and quietly steering it toward Jerry Krause.

    I could go on, but now I’m sad.


  33. - Colin O'Scopy - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 3:46 pm:

    =Yes, it’s a huge mystery why some of us don’t get warm fuzzies when billionaires who already got a massive handout that made them a lot of money come asking for another.=

    We also must not forget what subsidies and tax breaks the Reinsdorf/Wirtz families have received for the United Center.

    This isn’t 1988. The State of Illinois has so many pressing needs (think: pension debt, migrant support) that one has to think that Mr. Reinsdorf coming to Springfield the day before the Budget address has to be a planned exercise in how not to get what you’ve come for.

    Jerry is bluffing and using the reverse strategy that he used in ‘88 to get the current Sox Park to muster an excuse to bolt town.

    I love the Sox but always had an inkling that Jerry Reinsdorf never really loved the Sox fans the way he did the Bulls fans.


  34. - granville - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 4:18 pm:

    ==Folks, I think we’re being played as dupes here.==

    I guess, but I’m not sure why they would be devious about it. The threat of moving is implicit now. Everyone understands that, and they likely also remember the horrible midnight deal struck last time he threatened it (for a project he now dismisses as a white elephant and handwaves about who will pick up the remaining tab for it.)

    I’m sure some guy in Orland Park is really upset about this but I don’t think most people care, and I think the people who are OPPOSED to this are far more passionate. Which says something about the state of Reinsdorf’s teams. Being unable to rely on the emotional appeal to a million motivated sports fans is a pretty sad state of affairs.


  35. - Gravitas - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 4:51 pm:

    Driving by the empty site that used to be Arlington Park Race Track today, I thought about the White Sox more than I did the Bears.

    My memory flashed back to the original Comiskey Park where it seemed to me that Jerry Reinsdorf purposefully neglected routine maintenance to boost his argument that a new stadium was needed. I remember how Du Page County residents objected to the Sox playing in Addison and how he played Chicago against Tampa Bay.

    Being older and more cynical, I strongly suspect that Reinsdorf is choreographing a possible relocation of the team using the Walter O’Malley playbook (”Well they refused to build a new stadium for me in Brooklyn, so I had to move the Dodgers”) to justify a future move.

    It is really a terrible time to ask for a publicly financed stadium.


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