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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County government has hiked the amusement tax bill for the Bears, and is claiming the Cubs owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, all because of luxury suites.
The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that an audit by Cook County found that the Cubs owed up to $1.5 million in back amusement taxes, as well as interest and penalties, stemming from the luxury suites at Wrigley Field. The audit covered years when the Tribune Company still held full ownership of the team, the newspaper reported.
The back tax bill was later cut to $570,000, and the case is now before a bankruptcy job as a new audit begins for the time since the Ricketts family has owned the team, the Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, the county also handed the Bears a larger amusement tax bill for the 133 luxury suites at Soldier Field. The Bears are disputing the bill in court, the Tribune reported.
The dispute stems from a disagreement between the teams and the county. Everyone agrees that admission-related fees are subject to the amusement tax, but the county says parking, food and other provisions in the luxury suite bill are also subject to the tax, the Tribune reported.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13th) tells the Tribune the ordinance is poorly worded, and he expects the case to end up in litigation.
This controversy comes as the Cubs seek to use funds from the City of Chicago amusement tax – which is three times that of the county – for renovations at Wrigley Field.
The Tribune reports Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not support that idea, and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said in November that he was “not against” the project, but expressed skepticism about a plan that would take tax money away from “increasing the number of police officers hired or new street lights or sewer lines.”