No taxes in deal to buy, rehab Wrigley? Thompson says he found a way to do it

April 30, 2008

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Former Gov. Jim Thompson said Tuesday he has found a way to have the state buy and renovate Wrigley Field — a remodeling cost of “at least $400 million” — with “no taxes of any kind.”

“I like my new proposal. I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement” with Tribune Co., said Thompson, chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Thompson refused to say how the renovation could be financed without forcing the city to forfeit 30 years of sales and amusement tax growth generated by the Wrigley renovation. That’s something Mayor Daley has emphatically and repeatedly ruled out.

He would only say what the new plan would not include: “No PSLs [personal seat licenses] . . . No sales tax. No amusement tax. No McCormick Place [restaurant] tax. No taxes of any kind. I know that will disappoint the Sun-Times editorial board. But it’s the best I can do,” he said.

“Obviously, a deal done without tax money has a better chance of being approved than a deal based on tax money. Now the Sun-Times editorial board will be for it, right?”

Thompson hesitated when asked if his new plan would rely on the controversial sale of naming rights to the 94-year-old shrine of Major League Baseball.

Tribune CEO Sam Zell’s plan to sell naming rights to Wrigley to generate as much as $400 million over 20 years has met with stiff resistance from baseball purists and die-hard Cub fans. “I would say yes. But we would look for a naming rights deal that does not displace Wrigley Field.”

Sun Times

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