Category: Bears


How About a Hotel Tax for Workers?

Hotel taxes are how public financing of sports stadium construction for private companies gets done.\n\nHere’s how it works historically and in principle:\n\n1. The owner of a beloved sports team threatens to leave town if the city/county/state doesn’t build the team a new state-of-the-art facility.\n\n2. Politicians—facing tight budgets, no rx malady but craving private-industry allies and nervous about facing crazed sports fans—agree to pony up.\n\n3. Knowing that raising taxes on citizens for such a thing—especially when public schools and transit services and police forces face budget cuts—wouldn’t sit well with voters, see legislators introduce a new hotel tax to be paid by tourists who stay in local hotels and controlled by some freshly minted government sports facilities commission made up of appointees.\n\n4. The commission issues bonds for the stadium (backed by the government) and pays principal and interest and for ongoing stadium improvements using the hotel tax revenues, while operating outside of the workings of day-to-day, elected-official, as-the-founders-imagined-it-type government.\n\n5. The sports team gets their stadium, sports fans are psyched, taxpayers don’t seem to mind so much, and the politicians get to keep the whole dirty business at arms length: everybody’s happy!\n\nIn Chicago, the commission that manages the stadiums is called the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.  In practice, hotel taxes cover about 70% of the ISFAs expenses.  Politicians rarely mention the $10 million in direct taxpayer subsidies that go to the ISFA every year, or that the city has to make up for any shortfalls in hotel tax revenue, but the hotel tax pays for the stadiums for the most part.\n Continue reading


US Cellular Field and Soldier Field: The Gifts that Keep on Taking

It’s commonly known that there are three types of people in Illinois: 1.) people who have no idea that their tax dollars are used to subsidize professional sports teams, ed malady 2.) people who know that their tax dollars were used to build expensive stadiums for pro sports teams, online advice and 3.) people who know their tax dollars were used to build expensive stadiums and that subsidy payments for these stadiums are ongoing.\n\nFor the people who fall into the “no idea” category, let me be the first to tell you that Illinois taxpayers have contributed about a billion (inflation-adjusted) dollars to the construction and renovation of U.S. Cellular Field and Soldier Field, home of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bears.\n\nOf course, our broke-ass state didn’t have all of this money on hand when our elected officials voted to spend it.  They borrowed heavily by issuing state-sponsored bonds through a government entity called the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA).  The interest and principal payments on all of this bond debt cost Illinois taxpayers $33.5 million in 2012.  Much of the bond debt is backloaded, so it gets more expensive for taxpayers over time; debt service payments for Soldier Field, for example, will cost $88.5 million in 2032.\n\nSo for the people in the “aware of the initial but not the ongoing costs” camp, the annual debt payments outlined above are one thing, but the state also pays tens of millions every year to maintain the stadiums that the Bears and White Sox use almost exclusively.  From 2008 through 2012, revenues to the state from these sports venues have ranged from about $2 million to $4 million per year, while state spending on maintenance and improvements for our sports stadiums has between $10 million and $35 million annually.  All told, the state of Illinois has taken a bath to the soggy tune of more than $76 million dollars on its pro sports stadiums over the last five years on record.\n Continue reading


Rich Man’s Game: Rising ticket prices in taxpayer funded facilities

In case you didn’t notice, prostate pilule attending pro sporting events has become a pretty elitist activity.  Right up there with lipoplasty and lunch on the veranda.\n\nApparently, purchase medicine this trend will continue unabated.\n\nThe Blackhawks announced last week that they will be raising season-ticket prices again, this time by 16 percent in 2014.  A team spokesperson assured Crain’s that the team is conscious about “pricing out” fans.  But since the average cost for a family of four to attend a Blackhawks game is already $396 in 2013, I guess Hawks management means not to price out fans they haven’t already priced out.\n Continue reading


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

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Illinois Sports Facilities Authority documents obtained through FOIA request or other means.\nIrmer v. Reinsdorf et al – lawsuit filed April 2013, ambulance sick dismissed June 2014\n\nComplaint for Violation of Civil Rights and Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage (.pdf, viagra canada 173kB)\n\nIrmer v. Reinsdorf and Thompson Memorandum Opinion and Order Judge John W. Darrah (.pdf)\n\nU.S. Cellular Field Management Agreement\n\nWhite Sox/ISFA Management Agreement with Amendments 1-16 (.pdf, 15.86MB)\nWhite Sox/ISFA Management Agreement Amendment 17 (.pdf, 358kB)\n\n \n\nIllinois Sports Facilities Authority Annual Reports\n\n2009 ISFA Annual Report (.pdf, 1.81MB)\n2010 ISFA Annual Report (.pdf, 1.89MB)\n2011 ISFA Annual Report (.pdf, 3.68MB)\n\n \n\nBacardi at the Park Restaurant\n\nBacardi at the Park Letter of Agreement, JR Thompson to Howard Pizer (.pdf, 270kB)\nISFA Expenditures for BATP Construction (.pdf, 54kB)\n\n \n\n2011 Independent Audit of White Sox Fees to the ISFA\n\nSchedule of Fees to the Authority as of the 2011 Season and Independent Auditor’s Report (.pdf, 129kB)\n\n \n\nIllinois General Assembly ISFA Act\n\nSPECIAL DISTRICTS (70 ILCS 3205/) Illinois Sports Facilities Authority Act (.docx, 52kB)