Friday, January 04, 2008

Corporate welfare -- Ald. Tunney's two cents

This is becoming the little story that won't go away. Yesterday it became clear that Mayor Daley was on board with the state of Illinois buying Wrigley Field. Apparently somebody got to Daley over the holidays, and he changed his mind. Well that person forgot to talk to 44th ward Alderman Tom Tunney. Now Tunney has chimed in with his displeasure:

"The key is why [government would] get involved in Wrigley if there are private people willing to step up to the plate," he said.

That is a great question and one this blog has been asking for days. The answer is real simple the reason the state gets involved is so Sam Zell and the Tribune can pocket a premium for the Cubs, John Canning and his group (or another new ownership group) get the benefits of a new stadium and the revenues that come with it.

Tunney has been closer to the Cubs than any politician since he inherited the ward from Bernie Hansen back in 2002. He has worked well with the Cubs, negotiating deals that would be good for both the Cubs and the neighborhood. Since Tunney took office the Cubs have added seats, added nightgames, expanded the bleachers. Tunney has worked well with this team and the Tribune. He realizes that the Cubs don't always follow up on their end of the bargains on these deals (remember the corner building that was part of the bleacher expansion project?). So he brings up several factors related to the neighborhood:

Beyond that, the alderman said he is concerned that Wrigley issues settled in recent years after lengthy and sometimes painful negotiations could resurface. They include the park's landmark status, a limit on the number of night games and a plan approved by the city calling for construction of a five-story building containing a garage and commercial space on land just west of the park.

A real estate developer has assembled property for a proposed project that would include a hotel near the park at Clark and Addison Streets, and a Cubs official commented in passing that if a development of that size were permitted, "why not do [a hotel] as part of the ballpark" and redesign the already-approved Cubs commercial project, Tunney said.

"Everyone is thinking out loud," he said, adding that he is concerned about preserving the character of the neighborhood and the quality of life of local residents.

Anyone who has read this blog for some time knows that I have not always supported the neighborhood wackos who try to hold up the Cubs on any of the projects they plan to improve Wrigley Field. Again, I am not against the new owner rebuilding the grandstand. I just don't want to see it done on state funds.


Corporate Welfare is little series for the crappy/unpopular. If you wanna see the past rants on this proposed idea and why it is bad for the taxpayers, here they are:

Corporate Welfare -- December 21, 2007
Corporate Welfare (continued) -- December 23, 2007
Corporate welfare -- Daley changes his tune -- January 3, 2008

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