Sunday, December 23, 2007

Corporate welfare (continued)

The other day I went on and on about the state of Illinois' plan to buy and renovate Wrigley Field. Yeah, they're not gonna use tax dollars to fund the restoration of Wrigley Field. Think again. Yesteday in Fran Spielman's column the former Guv decided the plan should include tax dollars:

"If restoration includes things for the neighborhood -- like parking -- then using tax dollars for that would not be inappropriate," said former Gov. James R. Thompson, chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the state agency that built U.S. Cellular Field and could acquire and renovate Wrigley."

LMAO. How quickly these politicians change their tune.

Thompson is just waiting for Zell to name his price:

Referring to Zell, Thompson said, "He's the seller. I'm waiting for him to tell me what he wants for Wrigley Field. Then we can say 'yes' or 'no.' . . . The less the ballpark costs, the more resources [from future rent and naming rights] we could use for restoration."

Thompson said Wrigley "desperately needs restoration," but he won't know how much it would cost or how it would be financed until the Cubs' new owners decide how far they want to go and until architects and engineers do an inspection of the stadium.

Not surprising, Thompson believes that the Cubs new owners (wink, wink: John Canning and Andy McKenna) should benefit from the ISFA:

"Didn't the U.S. Cellular Field deal help the White Sox? Didn't the Soldier Field deal help the Bears? Didn't the United Center deal help the Bulls and Blackhawks? Why leave the Cubs out?" the former governor said. "I think ISFA should own Wrigley Field and restore it."

Zell has talked about selling the naming rights to Wrigley to generate millions for stadium renovations. But Thompson predicted that a naming rights deal would not be nearly so lucrative. There would be a "strong push to keep the name Wrigley Field" attached to the new corporate moniker, diminishing the value of such a sponsorship, he said.

There so all of you worried about the name of Wrigley Field can feel good.

Any way you slice this deal the taxpayers of Illinois are going to get screwed. There is no reason for the state of Illinois to buy this decaying ballpark and fix it up so these corporate suits can benefit from the deal.

Stay tuned...

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