Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Don’t Expect Any State Help

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has staunchly opposed the use of any state funds to help renovation Wrigley Field from thing one. Most recently, he engaged in a political battle with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over an appointee to run the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, and accused Emanuel of opposing his preferred appointee because Emanuel wanted to use the ISFA to help fund Wrigley renovations. Emanuel denied the charge, but continued to oppose the appointment of Kelly Kraft, Quinn’s former budget director.

Well, Quinn just got his way, as the ISFA board of directors confirmed Kraft yesterday, 4-3.

With Quinn’s handpicked choice at the helm, you can be assured that the ISFA will not be involved in assisting the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field any time soon. That seemed like a long-shot, anyway, given Quinn’s opposition to the use of state funds. (Obligatory, casual mention of the fact that the ISFA built U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox.) (Oh, hell, I’ll go further and just quote the opening screen on the ISFA’s web site:

Welcome to the new Web site of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA), the developer, owner and operator of U.S. Cellular Field, home of the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox.

ISFA was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1987 for the purpose of building the New Comiskey Park, known since 2003 as U.S. Cellular Field. Since its opening season in 1991, this baseball stadium has undergone extensive renovation and improvement, all under the management of ISFA. We continue to maintain and repair the stadium, along with our nearly 80 acres of surrounding property, to the highest standards.

Yup. Just sayin’.)

Hopefully Emanuel remains committed to working with the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field, whether by way of the use of public funds (a portion of the amusement tax collected on top of Cubs tickets) or by easing restrictions surrounding the use of, and advertising at, Wrigley Field. It still seems to me like the best option is a combination of both.

Team President Theo Epstein just last night reminded season ticket holders that a proper renovation at Wrigley Field is important to the future competitiveness of the team, both by way of revenue that helps the on-field product, and by way of improved player facilities.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

47 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Don’t Expect Any State Help”

  1. ETS

    The state has so many budget problems I never expected state help. Also, I don’t expect the state to use wrigley or the surrounding area like the city might.

  2. Pat

    Brett, the state owns the cell. Just sayin.

    1. TWC

      So the ISFA claims they own it just for fun?

      1. Pat

        The IFSA is part of the state, as should be obvious since it was created by the general assembly.

  3. Pat

    You own (edit button please)

  4. Don Irwin

    Just remember obama is a White Sux fan. hahahaha

    1. Steve

      …and Rahm is a Cubs fan. He’s the mayor of Chicago and could get the funding if he wants. In Chicago politics, there’s always money to be had, legally or illegally, and it’s usually the latter.

    2. fromthemitten

      Hillary Clinton is a Cubs fan

      Just sayin

      2016

  5. BluBlud

    Once again, it is not the business of the government to pay to built stadiums. It is also not the business of the state to tell Ricketts what to do with his stadium. I have done a little research on this since the last article, and I have come to this conclusion. Ricketts needs to be able to build his own stadium. However, if the local government is going to tell him what he can and can’t do with his stadium, then they need to pony up the difference in what money he could be making. This doesn’t mean a loan either. This mean they should just give up the cash and the Cubs should not be forced to pay a dime back.

    In other words, release the landmark status, or the City should build the damn thing.

    I very rarely change my opinion on something once I have formed one, but on this one I have.

    1. BT

      A lot of that changes when the government is demonstrably making money off of that business. It seems a bit unfair when the government says that they will take the money made from the Cubs amusement tax revenues, but won’t give them anything to improve their product, even though they’ve helped out virtually every other major team in the state. The Cell, Soldier Field, and the United Center did not spring up magically from a corn field.

      1. Mike

        I think people over-analyze the amusement tax issue. It’s just another pool of revenue for the state. There’s no rational reason that it should be allowed to be re-purposed by the organization remitting it. And I do mean remitting – don’t forget that it’s not the Cubs who pay the amusement tax, it’s the Cubs’ customers.

        I mean, my town “makes money” off of my property taxes. That doesn’t mean that I should be able to get a portion of it back to pay to renovate my home and increase its taxable value. I mean, it’d be nice certainly, but they’re under no obligation to do so.

        The strongest argument the Cubs have is the landmark site issue. And I do agree with that. The restrictions placed on Wrigley are ridiculous. However, I will note that it’s not like those restrictions weren’t known by the Ricketts when they purchased the Cubs, and without those restrictions their purchase cost would have been considerably higher.

    2. Dr. Percival Cox

      This is incredibly sad, but it’s getting to the point where the Cubs need to consider re-locating. (Yeah, I know, earth will crash into the sun before that happens, but still.)

      1. gblan014

        As much as I like Wrigley, I think that if a new stadium was built for the Cubs, it would only take a year or two and everybody would have moved on. I’ll take a good team in a boring stadium any day over a team that can’t fully exploit the advantage that should come from playing in the 3rd largest city in the country. What about the near West Side? There’s some vacant lands there and that’s where the Cubs played before Wrigley.

    3. Pat

      I think the landmark restrictions should be removed, but that won’t mean the Cubs can do whatever they want. There are still zoning laws that need to be considered which may govern things like the total height, etc.

  6. Curt

    WTF what a bunch of political hypocrites , the whitesox get a stadium built for them and the cubs ask for assistance and get told no. Unbelievable

  7. Ryne

    They need to get this renovation done. I’ve heard the weight room in Wrigley was once an old storage closet when Wrigley was first built, and is worse than most high school weight rooms. How can we expect to keep high profile players if our facilities are that bad?

  8. Polar Bear

    I’ve coming to the thinking that they should move the team to an outlying suburb and stick it to Chicago. Right now, the city gets to have its cake and eat it too with the landmark status and the amusement tax. Relocate, get a brand new ballpark, and tell them to cram their taxes.

  9. cubchymyst

    Can we get one of the HGTV shows to come in and shoot part of remodel for a show? It might be a way to gain some outside funding. I’d be interested in watching an episode or two on a Wrigley field renovation (it at least be as interesting as on of the house flipping shows).

    1. fortyonenorth

      I’ve worked for HGTV. They are among the cheapest networks on television. You might get enough out of them to upgrade the popcorn machine.

      1. cubchymyst

        There goes that idea.

  10. Mckay

    They just upgraded the weightroom two years ago, according to the gentleman that gave me a tour of Wrigley two weeks ago. Maybe my highschool weightroom was horrible but it looked nice to me.

  11. Dr. Percival Cox

    “And now, the starting lineup for your Racine Cubs!”

  12. Dustin S

    This is a discussion that could easily descend into being very political, especially 4 days before the election…but I’ll just say that it’s not too debatable that taxes in Illinois and Cook County in particular are pretty nutty. If the state doesn’t want to help with the Wrigley renovation that’s fine, I probably even agree with it, but the “entertainment” tax needs to be ended asap.

    I’d be all for the Cubs not getting any help as long as the state lowers sales taxes, beverage taxes, hotel taxes, cigarette (and I don’t even smoke) and liquor taxes, entertainment taxes, gas taxes, tolls (road taxes), etc. I thought the colonists left Great Britain for a reason lol…. If you add up the costs from start to finish to attend a Cubs game, especially for someone like me coming from out of town and staying overnight in a hotel, and figure up the additional costs over what it should be for a typical fan from taxes, it’s crazy.

  13. Kevin

    Even though we don’t hear anything directly from the Cubs organization about renovating Wrigley Field or a possible relocation, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t already have contingency plans In place to protect and maximize their interests.

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