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Excerpts from Irmer v. Reinsdorf et al

Update: Ben Joravsky outlines more specifics of the lawsuit and contemplates the shame of the White Sox longstanding deal with the city and state at the Reader.\n\nOn Monday, prescription clinic a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Perri Irmer, viagra former CEO of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, claiming that Irmer was wrongfully terminated at the behest of Jerry Reinsdorf because she sought to operate in the best interest of taxpayers rather than the White Sox.  More on the lawsuit in Shia Kapos’ article at Crain’s Chicago Business.\n\nFor more background check out these CSS posts about Reinsdorf and/or the ISFA:\n

\nI obtained a copy of the complaint yesterday.  The plaintiff’s attorneys pull no punches in the complaint.  It’s an indictment of Reinsdorf and of ISFA collusion against the interests of taxpayers.  At this stage these remain allegations from a high-ranking ISFA insider.  Some details are provided but evidence has not yet been presented.\n\nThere’s a link to the complaint on the new ISFA Docs page.  Here are some of the Irmer v. Reinsdorf et al complaint’s spicier highlights (or lowlights, more accurately I guess):\n

Since 1991, when Cellular Field opened, the Chicago White Sox have enjoyed the most lucrative and one-sided deal (which Defendants Reinsdorf and Thompson had negotiated while Thompson was still the governor) ever granted by a state to a privately owned professional sports team.\n…\nIn 2010, over Perri Irmer’s objections, the ISFA Board gave the White Sox a rent free deal enabling the team to obtain all of the revenue from the operations of Bacardi at the Park, which is the new restaurant that opened on publically owned land on 35th Street, across the street from Cellular Field. The terms of this deal should have outraged every citizen and taxpayer in Illinois.\n…\nPerri Irmer saw clearly what should have been obvious to anyone familiar with ISFA. Under former Governor Thompson’s leadership, the ISFA Board had become ineffective to protect taxpayer interests, and was acting as nothing more than a cash cow puppet for Jerry Reinsdorf.\n…\nAs approved by former Governor Thompson, the Chicago White Sox enjoy one of the most favorable taxpayer-financed stadium deals among any professional sports teams in the United States. Among the key provisions of this “unique relationship,” and without limitation:\n\na. ISFA paid 100% of the costs of building Cellular Field, which were approximately $167 million as well as paying 100% of the costs of ongoing improvements, which have amounted to approximately another $160 million to date;\n\nb. The White Sox paid no rent to play major league baseball at Cellular Field for the first 18 years of their lease (until 2008) and have paid only token rent since 2008.[3] This combination of free and/or below market rent will cumulatively amount to more than a $400 million public funds subsidy to the White Sox by 2029 when the lease term ends. This $400 million figure represents just the rent value, and does not include the value of the stadium itself, the various improvements and enhancements, the real estate tax exemptions for its nearly 80 acres of prime City of Chicago real estate, or even the amusement tax subsidies that have been enjoyed by the White Sox;\n\nc. In addition, the lease allows the White Sox to keep 100% of the revenue collected at Cellular Field during baseball games and other baseball related events (except for a small percentage that only kicks in when the White Sox exceed an annual attendance number), including but not limited to the revenue derived from ticket sales, food and beverage concessions, merchandising, advertising and parking; and\n\nd. The White Sox have a veto over development of the public lands that ISFA owns adjacent to Cellular Field, which the White Sox can use to block development of new commercial enterprises unless the development economically benefits the White Sox.\n…\nSimply put, the Chicago White Sox enjoy the most, or one of the most favorable publically financed stadium deals in the United States. The long-term Management Agreement that was signed in 1988 creates a leasehold interest that has substantial value to the Reinsdorf owned and controlled entity that owns the White Sox that arguably exceeds the value of the baseball team itself.\n…\nAlmost immediately upon becoming ISFA Executive Director/CEO, Perri Irmer came to realize that ISFA was in a difficult financial condition, which in substantial part was due to the fact that ISFA was putting the desires of Reinsdorf and the White Sox ahead of the interests of the State and its citizens. For example, the prevailing practice was that the White Sox were permitted to dictate which ballpark improvement projects were needed and when, and to decide how much money that the taxpayers needed to spend on those projects. ISFA was not exercising independent judgment and oversight to protect taxpayers, and in addition, ISFA was not working to maximize revenues in ways that would benefit taxpayers.\n…\nPerri Irmer sought to develop the publically owned lands around Cellular Field with commercial enterprises such as restaurants, shops and bars that could generate revenue for ISFA. Once again, Reinsdorf and the White Sox opposed this idea because the White Sox would not get the revenue. Reinsdorf claimed that increased economic activity on the land surrounding the ballpark would diminish the sale of concessions and merchandise inside Cellular Field, where the White Sox get to keep the revenue.\n…\nReinsdorf did not support Perri Irmer’s efforts to bring more community members into the ballpark through her targeted selection of minority youth and community groups to receive an increased share of the available unsold tickets. Reinsdorf viewed these efforts as being contrary to the White Sox brand, which he viewed as appealing primarily to persons from the suburbs or other areas of the city who were perceived as having little contact with minority communities.

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