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Mayor Upset City Taxpayers Had To Help Foot Bill For Stadium Renovations

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U.S. Cellular Field

U.S. Cellular Field (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Jonathan Daniel)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expressing concern after the city had to make up a $1.1 million dollar shortfall in tax revenue for renovations at U.S. Cellular Field and Soldier Field.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports that hotel tax revenue – the primary funding source for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the agency that funds renovations for the stadiums – fell short by $1.1 million this year, so the state tapped income tax revenue that otherwise would have gone to the city.

Emanuel said that’s part of the reason he replaced three members of the ISFA board earlier this year.

“I want a healthy industry – meaning in the sports area – as part of the entertainment and part of the quality of life of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “But I also want the taxpayers represented and I want their voices heard at the table. They have as much interest and I don’t want the taxpayers of the city of Chicago to be treated as if they’re just an ATM machine. They’re not.”

The mayor clearly was unhappy that the ISFA for the first time had to draw on tax revenue meant for the city to make up for shortfalls in funding for renovations at professional sports stadiums.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

“I have asked for a new board and I gave them clear instructions: you sit at the table and you represent the people of the city of Chicago, not yourself. You’re not there for yourself, you’re not there socially, you’re there as a voice of the taxpayers of the city of Chicago.”

The drain on city funds comes at a time when the city needs the money more than ever, coming just weeks after the City Council approved a bevy of increased city fines and fees to help make up for a $636 million budget shortfall.

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