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Is State-Assisted Wrigley Repair A Good Idea?

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Wrigley Field

Fans of the Chicago Cubs take pictures of the main entrance to Wrigley Field before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on April 12, 2010. (Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Ricketts family proposal to renovate Wrigley Field with state assistance is drawing both cheers and boos.

The owners of the Chicago Cubs are looking to spend $200 million to fix up Wrigley and they’re asking state lawmakers to authorize bonds that would help finance the project.

Wrigley Field is very old, and every year needs lots of work just to stay open. Today, netting keeps loose concrete from falling into the stands.

Tom Ricketts, Cubs chairman, proposes the state of Illinois to borrow up to $300 million dollars for extensive renovations.

“Let us do it the right way, like the Red Sox did, where we work on it on the off-season over three, four, maybe five years and get all the steel replaced, get the concrete replaced,” he told 670 The Score.

The bonds would be paid off through an increase in amusement tax revenue generated by higher Cubs ticket prices.

Marc Ganis, a sports business consultant, likes the proposal.

“It does not create a new tax, it doesn’t increase an existing tax,” Ganis told CBS 2’s Jim Williams. “This is about as efficient and intelligent a way to have economic development and job creation as you could find.”

But Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation, which scrutinizes city, county and state government budgets, insists it’s too early to tell if it’s good for taxpayers.

“We need a lot more information, and we need real detailed information as to who’s on the hook if the amusement taxes do not grow as projected,” Msall said.

The Ricketts family is promising to put in their own money to renovate Wrigley Field and to develop the area outside the ballpark, perhaps as much as $200 million in family money.

The Illinois General Assembly and governor would have to approve the bond sale. Friday, Gov. Quinn told WBBM Newsradio 780 that the Cubs owners have not pitched the proposal to him.

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