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The [Tuesday] Papers

I'm just catching up now with the Tribune's "Cubs Mean Big Business, And Big Debt, For Spring Training Home Mesa;" keep this article in mind when journalists wax about how the Ricketts family supposedly hasn't asked the taxpayer for anything, including funding of their Wrigley Field renovation, which they actually did originally seek taxpayer subsidies for. Let's take a look - while also remembering that this is one of the nation's wealthiest families.

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"When the Chicago Cubs opened spring training play [this year] in Mesa, nearly 15,000 far-flung fans packed the city's 3-year-old stadium, celebrating the defending world champions after more than a century of shared futility.

"For Mesa, a city of 475,000 which bankrolled the $100 million ballpark to keep the Cubs from bolting to Florida, ownership in the team's success is a source of civic pride, an economic opportunity and a major league debt.

"Much larger cities than Mesa have balked in recent years at funding sports stadiums and indeed, in Chicago, the Cubs are privately funding the $800 million renovation of their team-owned mothership, Wrigley Field, and part of the surrounding neighborhood.

"In Mesa, voters agreed to pay for the Wrigley-themed showplace in the Arizona desert more than six years ago. Full hotels, busy restaurants and sellout crowds have become the norm in March since Sloan Park opened in 2014, and on the heels of the Cubs championship last fall, the city expects sales tax revenue, tourism and its own marketability to reach new heights.

"But beyond a new upscale hotel, adjacent development has come slower than some had hoped, and while the stadium's tax burden falls on Mesa, the economic benefit flows across the border to neighboring Scottsdale, Tempe and other Phoenix-area towns."

Economic development always comes "slower than some had hoped" when it comes to stadium subsidies. There's a reason for that; it's called "economics." The data is there. The projections are almost always fanciful - and almost always accepted with little skepticism by the media.

Remember Chicago's Olympic bid? Now virtually everyone in public life is relieved to have lost that bid, understanding how economically disastrous it would have been. But back then, when it was important, virtually everyone in public life was onboard - including the media machine.

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"Whether the one-month exhibition season provides enough of a boost to justify building the stadium remains the $100 million question.

"Faced with potentially losing its most prominent tourist attraction to Florida and unable to secure state funding, Mesa stepped up to the plate, backing the deal through a municipal bond sale. The Cubs got a state-of-the-art spring training facility and increased stadium revenue, juiced by higher ticket prices. The city got the bill."

Remember: It's not as if the Ricketts family could not afford to fund this investment themselves. And has been pointed out in the past, it's particularly galling given patriarch Joe Ricketts' emphatic aversion to government "interference" in the public sector - a stance at least a couple of his kids seems to share.

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"Despite not winning a World Series since 1908, the lovable losers drew welcoming crowds each spring to the utilitarian Rendezvous Park, linking Chicago and Mesa in the quixotic quest for a championship.

"From 1967 to 1978, the Cubs held spring training at Scottsdale Stadium. In 1979, the Cubs moved into Hohokam Park in Mesa, which the team would call home for nearly two decades. That was demolished and gave way to a new $18 million, 12,500-seat Hohokam Park in 1997, which was funded by the city and hailed by then-team president Andy MacPhail as 'the nicest spring training ballpark in existence.'"

Emphasis mine. It's never-ending - no matter how profitable a team/corporation is. Their thirst for the public dollar is never slaked. You might call them dependent.

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"Mesa first looked to fund the project through state legislation that called for a surcharge on Cactus League tickets. The so-called Cubs tax met with opposition from other club owners - notably White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf - and died on the vine.

"Under the gun, Mesa agreed to finance the $84 million stadium and $15 million in infrastructure improvements itself, a plan approved by voters in November 2010 . . .

"In 2013, Mesa sold $94 million in excise tax bonds to cover the cost of the Cubs stadium and an $18 million renovation of Hohokam for its new tenants, the Oakland Athletics. The bonds mature in 2027 and 2032, but the city can pay off the bonds earlier, in 2017 and 2022."

Or not.

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"In Chicago, the Ricketts family is spending $800 million of its own money for the ongoing renovation of 103-year-old Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood."

See my introduction - only because of rare political currents that forced them to use their own money. Let's not give them so much credit (as if paying for your own renovation is something to be lauded for in the first place; that shows how warped the debate is.)

*

"Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said the team's spring training facility is 'crush(ing) it' on attendance, and features 'the most shade in the Cactus League,' one of many fan-friendly amenities. He believes the benefits for Mesa have yet to be fully realized.

"We think there is more opportunity," Ricketts said earlier this month. "And it certainly brings people into the city, and hopefully that works out really well for them."

Hopefully! But if not, oh well!

*

"The Cubs keep the entire gate at Sloan - the team's primary source of spring training revenue - with average season ticket prices up 14.7 percent over last year, according to the team."

Then maybe they should use that money to pay back the city!

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"Opening day tickets - including season packages - sold for an average of $32.30, a 29 percent increase over 2016. Individual tickets ranged from $35 for a lawn seat to $68 for an infield box seat.

"In 2015, the Cubs struck a 10-year naming rights deal with Sloan Valve of Franklin Park, plumbing supplier to Wrigley Field and the Mesa ballpark which now bears its logo, providing another revenue stream for the team.

"It used to be that spring training was a loss leader," Kenney said. "We're probably more break-even to slightly profitable."

I should think.

*

"[One] couple is spending $3,000 on a condo, and has budgeted another $2,000 for food and entertainment, with visits to the Grand Canyon and other outdoor activities on the itinerary. Deterred by rising prices, they bought tickets to four Cubs games at Sloan, opting for general admission lawn seats. Watching the Cubs play on the road this spring has become a more attractive option for them.

"Actually, it's cheaper to go to another park to see the Cubs right now, which is good for the other parks," he said. "We've got tickets to go see them play at the Brewers. We're looking at getting tickets to see them play at the Athletics at Hohokam - they're a little more reasonable."

Unintended consequences. But the Cubs only want moneyed fans now anyway.

*

Of course, it's not just the Cubs - like in most states, other teams want Arizonans tax dollars too.

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See also from Neil deMause:
* Mesa Cubs Deal: Vote First, Ask Questions Later.

* Mesa Voters Approve Blank Check For Cubs Spring-Training Field.

* Did I Forget To Mention MLB Teams Shake Down Cities For Spring Training Money? Oh, Do They Ever.

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America's Dirty Secret About Dangerous, Low-Wage Jobs And The Immigrants And Refugees Who Are Exploited To Fill Them
"The Bhutanese ended up at Case Farms in 2011 by way of a refugee resettlement agency. It was a marriage of the desperate. The refugees needed work that didn't require speaking English or an American education. Case Farms needed workers who would accept the low pay and grueling, cold and monotonous conditions that U.S. safety inspectors have repeatedly deemed extremely dangerous."

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Wrong Foot Louie vs. The Fireball Kid
Vintage championship bowling from Chicago Heights.

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Meet Chicago's Limo Bob
"His fleet includes a 100-foot-long limo and one made from a Boeing 727. He wears 33 pounds of gold jewelry on his hands and neck."

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BeachBook

There's A Doomsday Seed Vault - And We Almost Lost It.

*

Bettors Burying Sportsbooks In May.

*

Fela Kuti Built His Music Around A Distrust Of Nigeria's Elites. Now They're The Audience For The Musical About His Life.

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The Anti-Vaccine And Anti-GMO Movements Are Inextricably Linked And Cause Preventable Suffering.

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Silvis Native Heads IRS Criminal Investigation Division In Chicago.

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Children's Letters To The President.

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Chicago Lawyer's Moon Dust Bag Could Fetch $4 Million.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Of course, NBC News wasn't in the study.

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"For the next four years."

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Everything is a lie.

*

"But gravity is also just a theory . . . "

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Almost totally without accountability.

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Historical context illuminates the recurring schemes and scams; crucial for journalists' understanding of the events and issues they cover.

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Trump: Pro-cancer.

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Obtrumption of justice.

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Even worse is the hoary and repeatedly disproven premise that Rahm was responsible for 2006, when all non-Rahm sourced reporting says then-DNC chair Howard Dean was responsible despite Rahm's raging opposition to this plan. Clearly, though, not all local journalists tweeting out the Politico story have done their homework.

See also: The [Rahmbo] Papers.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: House of cards.



Permalink

Posted on May 23, 2017


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BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

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