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The [Thursday] Papers

"With the White Sox losing more than they won last season, a new restaurant across the street from U.S. Cellular Field gave fans a place where they could drink away their sorrows.

"But Bacardi at the Park was not brought to the north side of 35th Street by a generous corporate sponsor or the team's marketing department.

"Taxpayers covered the tab.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the government agency that built and owns The Cell, paid $3.2 million for construction of the restaurant plus just about everything inside the place, from walk-in refrigerators to bar stools, the Tribune and WGN-TV found in a joint investigation."

Say what?

"Another $3.7 million from the agency went for infrastructure upgrades for water and sewers at the Gate 5 plaza that made the restaurant possible.

Well, certainly taxpayers will get a return.

"The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority agreed with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf that the agency should not share in any restaurant profits."

Say what?

"'We said to Jerry, Jerry can we have part of the profits? and he said no,' former Gov. Jim Thompson, who was the agency's board chairman when the deal was made, said in an interview. 'We said, OK.'"

Wait. You gave him the taxpayer money and asked for a share of the profits? Who are you, Barack Obama? And after he said no you said okay? Did you strain your eyes from winking so hard?

"I've known Jerry for 52 years," Thompson told the Trib. "He's tough. He's tough."

The Trib doesn't say, but my understanding is that Big Jim was laughing his head off when he said it.

*

Take me back . . .

"So in 1983, claiming the old Comiskey Park was 'disintegrating,' and 'if we didn't get a new ballpark we'd go broke,' Reinsdorf again played hardball," Cigar Aficianado recalled in 1995. "Threatening to move the Sox to St. Petersburg, Florida, if Illinois legislators didn't fund a new stadium,he now explained, 'a savvy negotiator creates leverage. People had to think we were going to leave Chicago.'"

And they needed an amoral tool in the governor's office like Jim Thompson to go along with the plan.

"Reinsdorf did have one friend during the three-year imbroglio, Illinois Governor Jim Thompson. By June 1988, when it seemed certain that St. Pete would lure the Sox to its new Suncoast Dome, Big Jim twisted arms on the floor of the Illinois Senate, and the deal was done. Illinois funded a new stadium."

Except Reinsdorf was never going anywhere.

"White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn chatted privately with Gov. Jim Thompson Monday and assured him they were not going to beat feet to St. Pete, the Florida city trying to lure the team there," the Tribune reported at the time. "INC. sources say they also told the Guv that they wished the team`s end of the new stadium deal could be financially sweetened by the state, but didn`t make that wish conditional on staying put. What changed their minds? 'No comment,' said a White Sox spokesman."

Perhaps an agreeable Thompson who relished the opportunity to do a favor for a friend.

*

"Illinois taxpayers also got the short end of the deal. While Reinsdorf innocently insists, 'I didn't get into baseball to make money. Baseball is my religion. I'm happy to break even,' the Comiskey deal gave him free rent for up to 1.2 million in attendance each year."

Anyone living in Chicago for just a short period of time knows Reinsdorf isn't happy to break even, though he is happy to lie about it.

"The Sox pay the state $2.50 for every ticket from 1.2 to 2 million, yet the team also gets back $5 million a year for stadium repairs and maintenance. In addition, the state buys 300,000 tickets if attendance drops below 1.5 after the year 2001, so in actuality, Reinsdorf got public funds to build his stadium and subsidies to guarantee its profitability."

That's right. The state - meaning taxpayers - buys tickets if Sox attendance falls too low.

Occupy Cellular Field. If you don't, you pay anyway.

*

Back to today's Trib:

"Robert Baade, a Lake Forest College economist who studies stadiums, said stadium authorities should steer clear of economic development, particularly a business venture without sharing any profits.

"'This just seems weird to me,' Baade said."

Ya think?

*

Forbes estimates the White Sox are worth $256 million (and Reinsdorf's Bulls are worth $511 million).

Reinsdorf's net worth is estimated at somewhere around $300 million (he owns the teams with partners).

I don't know what Reinsdorf's annual income is, but his valuation easily puts him in the nation's 1%.

So by all means, let's lend him a hand by subsidizing his business ventures with taxpayer money. From the 99 percent, you might say.

The 1%'s Democracy
"A tiny elite delivers a hefty sum."

Percent of U.S. population making campaign contributions of $200 or more: .08%

Percent of U.S. population making campaign contributions of $2,500 or more: .01%

Songs Of The Occupation
First in a series: To Have And To Have Not.

Occupation Diary
The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72.

Beavis & Butt-head
This Is What It's All About.

Kitt Kops
Motorola's New-Age Police Car Features Voice Commands.

"KIck the shit out of him!"

"Shoot him in the back!"

"Use the drop gun!"

Halloween Balloon Twists
You know you wanna try it.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Twisty.



Permalink

Posted on October 27, 2011


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Can Anyone Stop Sinclair?
POLITICS - Hundreds Turn Selves In For Toppling Statue.
SPORTS - Bears Psychosis Grips City.

BOOKS - How Subversive Artists Made Thrifting Cool.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Cloudy Gate.


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