Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Mayor Reportedly Pushing for Publicly-Funded Arena for DePaul

respect wrigleyChicago/Illinois using public dollars to build a $300 million sports stadium for a private entity? Well, we already know how this story ends, right? There’s just no possible way that they would even consider doing th …. wait … uh, what?

That’s a Sun-Times report claiming that, this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will introduce plans to build a $300 million, 12,000 seat arena for DePaul University, a private school, $100 million of which will come from taxpayers of the state. Remember when the Cubs wanted $150 million of the Wrigley Field renovation costs to come from increases in the amusement tax the city/county levies on Cubs tickets? Remember how unpopular that plan was? Remember how Mayor Emanuel buried that plan because of a political axe to grind, and then claimed repeatedly that he was never going to let public tax dollars be used to fund a private stadium?

I’m sure I’ll be blasted by all of the ways that this project does not parallel the Wrigley Field renovation, and this is totally a different, laudable thing. But, at bottom, we’re talking about public dollars directly paying for a sports facility in a city/state because that city/state feels it will help the city/state.

So why wouldn’t they use taxes received on Cubs tickets to help with the Wrigley renovation? Not because Wrigley’s presence doesn’t help the city/state. All acknowledge that it does. And it’s clearly not because of some ideological, protect-the-citizens rationale, since, hello, DePaul. No, it’s because the city/state didn’t have to. It’s because the city/state knew the Cubs would pony up on their own. So the White Sox got their public money, the Bears got their public money, DePaul will get its public money … and the Cubs will get the privilege of fighting tooth and nail to spend their own money to renovate their stadium. ‘Murica!

I can tell you one thing with confidence: whatever teeny, tiny lingering fear I had that the Cubs’ night game or signage plans would be scuttled by City Council or the Planned Development process is completely gone. There is no chance that Emanuel would push for public money for DePaul after forcing the Cubs to pay their own way, and then not keep a boot on everyone’s ass to make sure the Cubs get what he agreed they’d get.

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

78 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Mayor Reportedly Pushing for Publicly-Funded Arena for DePaul”

  1. King Jeff

    Chicago politics at it’s finest.

  2. curt

    That’s some kind of bs, Emanuel is so bold now he dosent try and hide the fact that he along with the supporters of this are hypocrits just amazes everyone but the cubs gets public help , but by far the one that bothers me most is the freaking whitesox , I wonder why politicians are not trusted exhibit A Rahm Emanuel .

  3. ari gold

    Chicago truly is an awful place

  4. Smitty

    Brett,

    That last sentence was perfect. If you are wrong, though, one would have to believe Rickett’s would start to get serious with the “well Rosemont sure is looking better right now” game that he never played.

    1. WGNstatic

      Sure, they could play in the Horizon the Demons are leaving behind… And for DePaul, I hear there could be a nice piece of property in the Lakewood neighborhood.

  5. JulioZuleta

    I know I ranted on another comment thread, but this is just beyond comprehension. There also are plans to build a casino along with it. So to recap: PUBLIC funds going to a private RELIGIOUS school’s basketball court that no one will go to, and they are building a CASINO along with it. So much wrong with that.

    I think this raises serious church/state issues and also I wouldn’t be at all shocked to hear from the NCAA on this. I can’t imagine they will want anything new that could even possibly damage the “integrity” of the NCAA more than it has been. Having a stadium housing an NCAA team built along with a casino could be a PR nightmare.

    1. miggy80

      Wow this also makes me want to rant!

    2. hansman1982

      The fact that it’s a religious institution shouldn’t keep them from getting funds for non-religious things. Parochial schools receive funding and public assistance all the time.

      1. DarthHater

        I agree with Joe on this one. The Supreme Court has been pretty clear that public assistance to religious schools is okay for activities other than worship or religious proselytizing.

      2. JulioZuleta

        It’s not really that clear, there are a lot of things that create “excessive entanglement” of Church and state that can make funding illegal. One thing that the Supreme Court has shot down is giving public funds to something that the school will profit from. It would be one thing if the city built a building for DePaul to play in, and kept the profits and what not. But, usually it’s illegal to give public funds to that they school will indirectly profit from. The theory is that they might use the profit from tickets (which were aided from state funds) to fund other strictly religious activities.

        1. JulioZuleta

          This whole conversation is bringing back nightmares. Just finished an appellate brief on this very topic about 2 weeks ago. The Church/State stuff is a really frustrating line of cases.

    3. D.G.Lang

      I am a Christian and I receive the bible as the word (or direction) fromGod passed down through HIS saints over the years.

      The bible very clearly describes gambling as a sin and I wonder how well certain ‘religious’ organizations follow God’s word or directions on how to live one’s life when they go directly against that same word that they are supposed to be teaching.

      I have for many years recognized that the Catholic church openly uses gambling in it’s fund raisers whether it is through BINGO or other related means and I feel that they are substituting their own rules and traditions in place of what the bible actually teaches.

      I am sure that some will very strongly disagree with me but I will stand on what I have stated and I will not change my opinion. I would much prefer to accept what the bible teaches about God’s will than what some individual somewhere feels that he can get away with in rejecting God’s word.

      1. Hee Seop Chode

        The only God in Illinois is tax revenue.

      2. Matty V

        I’m curious as to which verses from the Bible clearly state that gambling is a sin.

        1. Tim Mo

          Something I thought I’d never see on this site is a conversation concerning Catholicism and BINGO.

          1. Cubbie Blues

            Why? We talk about a wide variety of subjects. Although, he wasn’t speaking of Catholicism, but Christianity as a whole.

            1. Tim Mo

              I wasn’t complaining, I just never thought I would see it on the site. And the Catholic Church was specifically discussed in the post, try paragraph three.

              1. Cubbie Blues

                Separate sub-thread, but semantics.

                1. Tim Mo

                  Gotcha.

        2. mjhurdle

          i would be interested to see that as well.
          Obviously over-abundance of anything is a bad idea, but what makes the acts of “gambling” $5 for a short lived amusement any different than spending $5 on a nice meal, or a movie, which is also just short lived amusement?

        3. kgd

          It’s not explicitly condemned, but most Christians agree it’s something to be avoided based on Bible principle. Mostly because most of the time when someone wins at gambling it’s at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. That would be in conflict with showing love of neighbor as well as desiring your fellowman’s belongings.

          1. Cubbie Blues

            No, the love of money is wrong as well as envying someone’s property. Two parties that agree to gamble is no different than two parties buying and selling. Now, if there are underlying reasons for gambling, those are what would be wrong.

      3. Cedlandrum

        I don’t usually comment on religion when brought on these boards, but ultimately I can’t pass this up. D.G. Lang you are fundamentally wrong on this account. You may take the bible literally but in truth the bible never speaks on gambling as a sin. Now that doesn’t mean that something not mentioned in the bible isn’t sinful. In fact i would make the argument that it isn’t sinful at all, like most things if done in moderation.

        1. JulioZuleta

          Reaching back into second grade religion class at Queen of the Rosary (where I went to school), so I could be wrong, but I think the “Bible says gambling is a sin” thing comes from the story where jesus went to the town square or something and freaked out, like his only angry time or something like that, because there were (and this is a loose quote) “prostitutes, gamblers, and other sinners…” doing stuff.

          I’m pretty sure that’s where the implication comes from, again though, that’s a real loose interpretation.

          All that being said…you wouldn’t believe the odds I locked in for the Blackhawks to win the Cup back in January.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            That is my understanding. There are a lot of assumed “sins” that are never explicitly mentioned: what the Bible forbids (or condemns) are things that *some people* associate with them. *IF* you think that the goal of gambling is to accrue wealth for the sake of wealth, then because the latter is a sin, then the former is. However, most gamblers would tell you that is not why they gamble. The Bible also condemns things that, in modern speak, sound like addiction: but theologians also will tell you that free will is supposed to be involved, and addiction is where free will ceases. Whoops.

            The Quran, on the other hand, does explicitly forbid gambling.

          2. Cubbie Blues

            I actually don’t think the bible ever separate from the love of money. It discusses casting lots, but that was more used to qualm disputes and leaving hard decisions up to chance.

          3. hansman1982

            I believe the incident you are talking about was in the Temple where there were money-changers, gamblers and general frivolity.

            Jesus freaked out, moreso, because they were using the Temple for all of this. Out of that story is where I was always taught that we had to be respectful in church, not talk, etc…

            1. Cubbie Blues

              No mention of gambling. Only money changers, dove sellers and people buying and selling things.

              1. hansman1982

                It may have been the nuns that put the gamblers, hookers and thieves in the Temple.

              2. TWC

                Dove sellers are no good?

                Well there goes my alternate career path.

                1. hansman1982

                  Straight to hell for you as God couldn’t tell you and a prostitute apart.

                  1. Cubbie Blues

                    He does have some pretty hair.

                  2. Cubbie Blues

                    pretty ^long hair.

          4. Northside Neuman

            The story of Jesus and the temple was referring to the money changers in the temple not gamblers, or those who lend money with interest rates. Called Usury, it was frowned upon by Muslims and Christians. Jews were allowed to practice usury in Europe and were tolerated becasue Christians were forbidden to loan money for profit.

            1. Hee Seop Chode

              Well as a gambling, drinking banker, I could care less what the magical superhero from thousands of years ago would think about me were he alive (which by definition he isn’t).

  6. bbmoney

    I’ve thrown some posts up on this elsewhere already.

    To be clear I really dislike almost all kinds of publicly funded projects like this that help private entities (and frankly I wish state institutions would put these kinds of things in their budgets instead of insisting they need to raise taxes or issue bonds when magically 20 years after building something ….surprise renovations or a new building are needed….but I digress). But, this is different from funding a for-profit, private entity’s renovation of their stadium. Based on available info, I still don’t think it’s something the city should do, but it is different and in my opinion less egregious.

    Yes….they did it for the Bears and WhiteSox, shame on them they shouldn’t of, but hopefully we’ve seen the end of that.

    1. JulioZuleta

      But at least if they gave to the Cubs they would get more return on amusement tax. Like I said on the other post, I have to imagine tying the stadium with the casino opened some kind of loophole. The casino is likely to be the moneymaker and focal point of it.

    2. Nick

      Agree it is different. DePaul is not a for-profit entity. Also, the other difference is that DePaul is not currently playing in the city, so there is some positive to bringing the dollars that I spend in Rosemont into the city. As a cubs and DePaul season ticket holder and Lakeview homeowner, I agree that public money shouldn’t be used to pay for either project, but I also think the two situations are different.

      If DePaul moves back into the city, I will be very happy to avoid the commute the suburbs. At least with the cubs I can walk to the stadium to see my team lose.

    3. Jeff

      Well said bbmoney…I agree with you on all your points.

    4. JoeyCollins

      I’m sorry but the U.S. Catholic church is a 170 billion dollar business. They have more money than the Ricketts could ever dream of, and just because Churches have a non-profit tax advantage it does not mean they are not a business, or do not make a profit. Public money CAN be used for non-religious activities at private schools, but this entire deal is ridiculous. This is not the case of a for-profit business vs a non-profit entity, this is entirely about the Cubs having no choice in the matter and the city wanting another excuse to build a casino.

      1. bbmoney

        There is no reason to be sorry.

        I also sincerely hope most non-profits are run in a business like manner. But we’ll have to disagree about not-for profits making, or being run to make a profit. That in no way shape or form means they don’t make money some years, but they aren’t run with the intent of making money and profits aren’t distributed to owners but instead any income over expense remain with the entity for future use.

        Those are all broad generalizations of course and I’m sure some non-profits operate in unintended ways, and of course there is often corruption and theft in nonprofits just like in any other entity.

  7. JulioZuleta

    A sent a two page letter to the mayor’s office expressing my concerns as a taxpayer and demanding a response (hah). We’ll see how that goes. Even if someone responds, it’ll probably be from someone who cannot use proper English because, ironically, the schools don’t always get enough public funding.

  8. Justin

    What is wrong with Chicago? Typical Emmanuel..

  9. Jason

    awsome. public funding for a private school. do they even pay amusement taxes? college sports don’t even pay their players…..well not openly anyway.

  10. hansman1982

    “and the Cubs will get the privilege of fighting tooth and nail to spend their own money to renovate their stadium.”

    This is what frustrates me the most. I think in 10 years, we will be slightly better off with private funding for Wrigley but once they said, “We will pay”, the regulations and restrictions on the Cubs should have been dropped.

  11. itzscott

    It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs….. The more jobs created, the more taxes taken out of more paychecks, the more these new workers can afford to buy things and pay sales taxes etc and on and on.

  12. Alex

    Honestly I go to DePaul and this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Not to mention they were offered the UC by reinsdorf for 10 years for free but instead they’re getting tax payer money to build McCormic place up. Next is a casino. What a hypocrite.

  13. XavierGunz

    Im really glad the Ricketts are paying for the renovations w their own money. To see Emanuel agree to build a 300 mil new stadium w 100 mil coming from tax payers wallets is a damn shame.
    How bout put some of that in education or um i dont know, since chicago has the highest crime rate in the nation how about hire more cops or something.
    The Mayor needs to take a class in Financial Economics. He needs to learn where to spend the money we DONT ALREADY have.
    BS!!!!
    Go Cubs!!!! lol

  14. North Side Irish

    From Carrie Muskat: Fans interested in tracking the renovation of Wrigley Field and showing their support for the ballpark’s restoration can follow the progress on a new website, WrigleyField.com, which the Cubs launched on Tuesday.

    http://www.wrigleyfield.com/

    1. deej34

      My favorite link on that site: http://www.wrigleyfield.com/support/call

      “Bother Tom Tunney!”” haha

  15. Rcleven

    Rahm can propose anything he wants it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen with state funds.
    Illinois has a Governor who is opposed to expanding gambling. With the state of Ill. credit this will never happen in the near future.

    1. Brian

      This governor works for the state of Chicago, 97% of the rest of the real state of Illinois didn’t vote for him, he will do what Rahm wants.

      1. caryatid62

        Could someone give me a map of what the “real” state of Illinois is versus the fake one? Last time I checked, Chicago made up 22% of the total population of Illinois, so it’s as real as any other place.

    2. 1060Ivy

      My understanding is that Illinois has a governor who’s taking money from folks who don’t want to expand gambling unless it’s their own plan which is a bit different than a “Governor who is opposed to expanding gambling”.

    3. Northside Neuman

      Quinn isn’t going to be in office long… His days are numbered.

  16. Stevie B

    “It’s the Chicago way”…..

    I hate to say this…but I’ve never really thought about how crappy that town really is (politics, crime, traffic)
    If not for the food and the Cubs…why would anyone ever want to live / visit there?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      The thing is, people in nearly all of the major cities say this. It’s the NY way, the Philly way, the DC way, the London way, the Moscow way, etc. They say it now, they said it 50 years ago, they’ll say it 50 years from now.

      1. hansman1982

        I wonder if it was also the Rome way and the Athens/Troy way and the Alexandria way and the big group of mud huts over that hill way and the big cave on the big hill way…

  17. CubsFaninAZ

    Wow, “King Jeff” said it best. Chicago politics at its best. DePaul doesnt make the state anywhere close to the amount of money the Cubs do. So if anyone should get taxpayers money its the organization that could easily pay back its debt. But he’s an Obama boy, and they just dont seem to get the importance of paying debts back. He’ll probably defend this by saying about how its all about education and upgrading their facilities so kids can succeed there, blah blah blah. Then he’ll become a tenured professor there once his mayor days are done. Textbook Chicago Politics.

    1. Hee Seop Chode

      Well you’re wrong here. DePaul charges something like $40,000 a year per undergrad and could pay this out of pocket. Debt, and or being “Obama’s Boy” are irrelivent in the matter.

  18. Deez

    Cubs need to quit w/ the bluffing & move to the suburbs. You can develop a new area that will give you the amenities need for nightlife & pregame activities. More importantly, if the Cubs are truly developing a winner, people will come.

    1. Kevin

      +1

    2. Hee Seop Chode

      With respect to the night life, how would people get home from Rosemont? Would there be a shuttle to the Blue line? Would you want to take a bus to a 30 minute train ride after 10 old styles?

    3. caryatid62

      They don’t even have to build a winner where they are right now to get people to come, so they’re not going anywhere.

  19. Kevin

    Note to Tom Ricketts: Move the team out of Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Hee Seop Chode

    Aren’t the cubs getting $60MM in tax advantages on their $300MM stadium? Given that the Cubs are a privately held for profit corporation, and DePaul is a non-profit organization moving jobs/facilities into the city, I’m ok with a 60/100 differencial.

  21. Hack Wilson

    I think it was a poor choice of words (basketball arena for DePaul.” Take DePaul out of the equation. What you have then would be a 12,000 seat arena that would attract events to entertain conventions goers and perhaps attract more conventions to the city. When are the vast majority of conventions held? Not in Dec, Jan, or Feb. These would be the prime dates for DePaul, which is paying one-third of the cost of the arena. Additionally, the hope is that hotels and the arena would attract more people to the South Loop, revitalized the area, and increase tax revenues in the long run.

    Seems like a win-win partnership for both the city and DePaul. Now, just suppose a large casino is also brought into that same South Loop neighborhood………

    1. Can't think of a cool name

      Good synopsis Hack. The proposal could cost $300 million and would include hotels and a possibly a casino. The $300 million is not all for the arena. I could see the city moving the public leaugue championship series there, hoting early round NCAA games, as well as having other types of conventions there. Also, DePaul is kicking in $100 million as Hack indicated above.

    2. Brian

      So, the proposal is $400 million if the city is in for $300 and DePaul is in for $100. Seems like a lot more than a 12,000 seat arena is going down here and DePaul’s name is associated with this, by the city.

  22. ssckelley

    Personally I think this is great for the City of Chicago as you are getting a renovated Wrigley Field, a new basketball stadium, a casino, and new hotel/convention centers all that will generate more money for the city to help pay for schools and other needs. Take off your Cubs hat for a second and ask yourself what is best for your city in the long run. I think those of you from Chicago will like the results long term.

    Chicago is an awesome sports city and I remember when I was a kid how good DePaul basketball used to be. Other schools, including the one I root for, recruit Chicago heavily and right now DePaul has no shot at keeping the talent home with their facilities (or lack thereof). It is scary to think how good DePaul could be once they get the new facilities and start keeping some of that Chicago basketball talent at home.

    1. Tim Mo

      This is key to the upgrading of the McCormick Place convention area. It’s more about convention space than DePaul basketball. Rahm wants Chicago to become the city to go to for conventions again.

  23. Kyle

    It is simply not the city’s job to be “fair” in this regard. It’s their job to do what they think is best for all the taxpayers.

    They knew that they could bend Ricketts over a barrel and the Cubs would have to pay for the renovations, so why would they pay for it?

    1. Jon

      Having the taxpayers pay for something DePaul could fund themselves isn’t best for the taxpayers either.

      1. Pat

        This really has nothing to do with DePaul, it is all about expanding McCormack Place and getting some hotels and a casino on the complex. The DePaul part is a distraction much like the proposed ASU involvement with the Cubs spring training facility prior to approval.

  24. aCubsFan

    This was one of the topics of discussion last night on CSNChicago’s Sports Talk Live last night. Kaplan was outraged about the public money being spent on a religious project and that the Cubs have to fight tooth and nail and jump through thousands of hoops to spend their own money to renovate Wrigley. The panelists also said where’s the essentially bankrupted state going to find public money for this project when they can’t get the pension funding in line.

  25. Die hard

    All such projects should be deferred until toll roads paid off so tolls end or the cows come home, which ever is first

  26. mtcubfan

    Isn’t politics interesting? After spending over 20 plus years in local government in Montana, I understand how fine distinctions are made in appeasing your supporters. But I can’t see where the splitting hairs on DePaul & Wrigley makes any rational sense. In a small town, Emanuel would have been blasted in the media and whenever he ventured outside his home. Wow, the advantages of living in metropolitan – or is it just good old Chicago backroom politics?

  27. Matt Garza Says He Doesn’t Need Another Rehab Start and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Mayor’s proposal for a publicly-funded arena for (private university) DePaul comes as part of a grander plan for the redevelopment of McCormick Place and Navy Pier [...]

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