A couple months ago, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts laid out a plan that would help fund planned renovations to Wrigley Field using a portion of the amusement tax collected on tickets to Chicago Cubs games. That plan was roundly castigated (except here), and crumbled under the weight of political grandstanding.
Grr! You want the taxpayers to pay for your private building after you just bought the Cubs for a gajillion dollars!? No more bailouts! Grr! Me angry! Me smash! Me no interest in listen to logical explanation! (I kid, I kid. I recognize that there were rational reasons to oppose the plan – they simply got lost in the deluge of ridiculous reasons.)
But that hasn’t deterred the Cubs, it seems, who still intend to incorporate a public portion into their plans to renovate.
We hear the Cubs are quietly working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field. In simple terms, the team would match its previous tax payments to the city — $16 million in 2009 — while keeping any tax revenue above the base for park renovations and perhaps construction of the long-planned triangle building. Once the team has what it plans built, the Cubs argue the additional business will increase taxes collected.
“The plan they came up with for this renovation was a non-starter,” governor Pat Quinn said Monday on ” Chicago Tribune Live” on Comcast SportsNet. “It didn’t have public support. They have to go back to the drawing boards.” chicagotribune.com.
The fact that the previous plan was a non-starter remains, to my mind, utterly ridiculous, but nevertheless, any plan that combines public and private funds makes (even if the public portion is now reduced) makes sense. This is particularly true where the public portion is coming from funds directly tied to Wrigley Field. The owners obviously get a value from a renovated Wrigley, and the public does as well – the nicer the facility, the more visitors you get (and more importantly) the more vendors sell.