Is State-Assisted Wrigley Repair A Good Idea?

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.

  • Bill Mcgraw

    If the ROI is as great as the Cubs proclaim ,they could easily go it alone since every bank would jump at the opportunity to loan to such a “cash” cow as the Ricketts seem to imply. they could easily go it alone since this “cow” spews money at an escalating rate.
    I would not give them a second look and where are they going anyway. nowhere.
    Go it alone on their own merits and tell the players union to buck up and take a pay cut to save wrigley.

  • Woodman13

    How silly. They could go right to the Fed’s for some leftover bail out funds. How about a Cub’s fan on every corner with a cup .

  • MJE

    Absolutely not. Take a fraction of that money and restore the Uptown Theater.

  • Thomas O

    Yes, because the Uptown Theater will generate $16 million + in amusement tax revenues just on ticket sales alone. Because the Uptown Theater generates $10 + in sale tax revenue within the walls of the theater, yes because the Uptown theater would stimulate an entire segment of the Cities economy and produce $100’s of million in sales tax revenues at business surrounding the theater….

    Oh wait, no it won’t. Their is a reason no one will ever invest the $20 to $30 to rehab the Uptown, it will never come close to recouping the investment. Wrigleyville depends on Wrigley Field, and Wrigley Field and the surrounding economic zone is a huge money maker for the city. That is why this is a good idea.

  • DH

    State Assistance is not a good idea. for a man who has mega dollars and has bought the cubs like someone buying a lego toy set. if ricketts wants improvements tear down wrigley and build a new modern ball park.

  • Right

    State assistance is taxpayer assistance and the Ricketts already gouge the taxpaying fans with the price of tickets and concessions while giving handouts to minorities.

  • Lawmakers To Decide On Funding For Wrigley « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] The proposal calls for using 35 years’ worth of amusement tax growth to pay off the bonds. The inc… […]

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