Tagged: Illinois Sports Facilities Authority


Not Breaking: Reinsdorf US Cell Boondoggle Lawsuit Dismissed

Five months ago, store rx while his White Sox were in full June swoon, Jerry Reinsdorf was celebrating victory. Unreported and unnoticed, with the silent efficiency of a mob hit, the lawsuit against the White Sox chairman brought by an ex-government employee was weighted down and left for dead in a river of motions, minutes, and memorandums.\n\nIn April 2013, Perri Irmer filed an impassioned claim with a local district court arguing that her individual rights had been violated in a wrongful firing, but the case was a larger indictment on behalf of taxpayers against the enigmatic Reinsdorf, his goose, and his golden egg.\n\nThe goose is the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. In her lawsuit, former ISFA CEO Irmer affirmed what those of us who have been paying attention have long suspected: that the ISFA—the government agency created by the state of Illinois allegedly to promote jobs and economic development through investment in sports stadiums—is in practice an entity that mobilizes public funds in the interest of Reinsdorf and his White Sox ownership partners.\n\nReinsdorf’s golden egg is US Cellular Field. The White Sox home ballpark was built, renovated, and is maintained with public money. Taxes pay for upwards of fifty million in bond debt and stadium upkeep annually while the White Sox pay one or two million dollars in “rent” or “ticket fees,” or whatever they happen to be calling the pittance in any given year.\n\nIrmer was in charge of ISFA operations from 2004 to 2011. Early in her tenure she recognized that the White Sox stadium agreement with the ISFA and state of Illinois was “abusive to taxpayers.” And so Irmer sought to reduce costs of ballpark management, earn more revenue for the state at US Cellular Field from events such as concerts, develop public land around the park, and make White Sox games more accessible to members of surrounding south side communities.\n\nAccording to Irmer, Reinsdorf didn’t like her proposals because they cut into his bottom line. US Cellular as a music venue would compete with the United Center, which is owned by Reinsdorf (and incidentally, way undertaxed). More businesses near the ballpark would mean less revenue for White Sox ownership inside the facility. And Reinsdorf opposed lower-class people of color at US Cellular Field because they undermined the White Sox “brand.”\n\nIrmer also fought against additional public funds being diverted to Reinsdorf and the White Sox. She opposed the Bacardi at the Park agreement in 2010, in which Reinsdorf received both state money to build a restaurant outside of US Cellular Field and all the revenues generated from the bibulous White Sox fans therein. And when Reinsdorf asked for $7 to $10 million additional tax dollars for renovations in 2011, Irmer balked again. Despite Irmer’s protests however, Reinsdorf got his (extra) millions in both cases.\n\nBy Irmer’s account, insiders knew that she wanted to make people in power aware of the ISFA’s wastefulness to taxpayers and Reinsdorf’s undue influence over ISFA decision makers. But few were willing to listen. In late-2010 and early-2011 Irmer attempted to meet with Governor Pat Quinn but was rebuffed by his staff. She had a meeting scheduled with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on April 28, 2011. However, four days before the meeting date, Irmer arrived at work to find herself locked out of her office. She was terminated by the ISFA Board two days after that.\n\nNone of these facts or events were disputed in the judge’s opinion on the case. Instead, Irmer’s lawsuit was thrown out because the judge ruled she had not adequately argued that her civil rights had been violated. Unfortunately, collusion is hard to prove, having clout is not illegal, and by law Jerry Reinsdorf has the right to act in his own business interests.\n\nMeanwhile, no one is acting in the public’s interest as the major stakeholders in the ISFA and US Cellular Field, and that is seriously troubling.


Sox Take a Step Closer to Playing in Shopping Mall

Originally posted on The Catbird Seat on 3/25/14.\n\nCome opening day, hospital drugstore there will be a shiny new drinking establishment near Section 112 on the U.S. Cellular Field concourse. It’s called “Xfinity Zone, illness see ” which is not trademark infringement because the White Sox partnered with Comcast Corp.’s digital media brand to make this 2, buy viagra 200-square-foot, 12 flat-screen, social media wall, full menu, craft beer and cocktail dream a reality.\n\nActually, as we all know, no baseball-affiliated enterprise is really real until the circulation of the press release including the obligatory home run pun from a company executive/sports-enthusiast.\n

…’Comcast is looking forward to hitting it out of the park with our new Xfinity Zone at U.S. Cellular Field,’ said David Williams, Comcast’s regional vice president of marketing and sales and a White Sox fan.

\nAnd there we have it.\n\nWhite Sox Marketing VP Brooks Boyer calls Xfinity Zone \”one of the most unique and exciting additions we have made to the ballpark to date.\”\n\nIt’s unique in one respect at least. Crain’s Danny Ecker reports the bar was “built by the Sox and Comcast without any financing from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.”\n Continue reading


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


‘Rent’ in the White Sox/ISFA Agreement

I’ve been thinking on it, buy cialis sick so I want to address a few things about the White Sox and the rent they pay the ISFA for exclusive use of Chicago’s Taxpayer Ballpark (aka U.S. Cellular Field).\n\nConfusion on this subject is understandable, capsule as it is in all issues surrounding the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.  That’s because the relationship of these two entities—one private, one public—is laid out in a four-hundred page contract, the terms of which are complex, confusing, and in constant flux.\n\nOne of the reasons that I love the Irmer v Reinsdorf Thompson et al lawsuit complaint is its prose; it proves that lawyers can be clear, plain, and to the point when they want to be.\n\nUnderstanding the contract language of the White Sox/ISFA Management Agreement, on the other hand, requires a legal parlance decoder ring, the patience of a Franciscan monk, and many hours shipwrecked on an island with nothing else to do.\n\nI’d say that it’s as if the authors of this public document—outlining a deal that greatly benefits a private corporation over taxpayers—intended to obfuscate in order to dissuade interest.  But hey now, that’d be pretty cynical.\n

. . .

\n Continue reading