Ricketts Not Giving Up On Wrigley Renovation Plan
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UPDATED 11/16/10 – 5:23 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Tuesday that there’s no “Plan B” to pay for a $400 million proposal to renovate Wrigley Field, so he hopes state lawmakers go along with a plan to get state aid for the plan.
The Ricketts family wants to get the General Assembly to approve a plan for the state to float up to $200 million in bonds that would be repaid by growth in amusement tax charged on Cubs tickets.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports that, even though Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Pat Quinn are opposed to the plan and House Speaker Mike Madigan said he believed it was withdrawn, Ricketts isn’t giving up.
Madigan told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he believed the Ricketts family had withdrawn their financing plan.
But later in the day, a spokesperson said the Ricketts family called Madigan and said they intend to work with him on the financing plan. The spokesperson said Madigan will try to be helpful as the Ricketts family gathers outside support.
Union leaders stood by Tom Ricketts on Tuesday to back the financing plan.
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Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said, “This isn’t about the Cubs and it’s not about the (White) Sox. This isn’t about North Side or South Side, it’s about jobs.”
Business leaders tossed their support behind the propsal too.
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper said, “We need to drive economic development in this community. We need to have projects like this.”
Ricketts’ plan would provide $400 million in renovations to Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, creating 1,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.
The plan would call for the state to issue up to $200 million in bonds that would be repaid through existing amusement taxes.
“There is no new tax. There is no tax increase, simply reinvesting of existing taxes going forward,” Ricketts said.
The Cubs would provide the other half of the $400 million in financing. Ricketts said the plan would allow for the preservation of Wrigley, while giving tax benefits to the city, county and state.
Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said, “This is the Ricketts family asking the state to do for the Cubs, what they’ve done for all other sports and tourism attractions.”
But Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said that, with a $13 billion deficit, the state has much bigger problems to address than renovating Wrigley Field.
“What we’re concerned is that this is a distraction to the work that needs to be taking place in Springfield,” Msall said. “The state of Illinois faces a financial crisis of epic proportions.”
Msall stressed that the Civic Federation is not against assisting a real tourist attraction for Chicago, but he said energy should be focused on solving the state’s budget crisis first.
The Ricketts family pointed out Tuesday that their proposal would bring in an additional $66 million each year to the local economy, in part by building a new restaurant and shopping venues near the stadium.