Daley mum on alternatives to fund Wrigley renovation

Mayor Richard Daley said today that the Ricketts family might need to look at a different way to fund improvements at Wrigley Field rather than relying on state-issued bonds that would be paid off using amusement-tax revenue generated at the ballpark.

“I think there’s ways, not only the proposal they have. I think there’s other concepts people have come up with to benefit them as well,” Daley said. He declined to offer specifics.

“There’s other things. I don’t want to get down to details, but there’s other things people have suggested,” he said. “I can’t rule it in or out. It is a good proposal, but like anything else we have to see what effect this has on the revenue, and that’s very important, especially when you’re looking at nickels and dimes. That’s what we look at. People are taking furlough days off, and cutting pay and all that, so it’s difficult.”

Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts said this week he hopes to finance extensive renovations at the 96-year-old park using up to $300 million in bonds floated by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. The bonds would be paid back over 35 years using increases in amusement-tax revenue collected at Wrigley Field through ticket sales, according to Ricketts.

The mayor said he believes it is important to protect the stadium because of its importance to the neighborhood and the city as a tourist destination. “This is an historic place. Visitors come, not only from throughout America, but the world, to come to Wrigley Field,” Daley said.

But Daley, who appeared today at the dedication of the new Town Hall District police station two blocks east of Wrigley Field, said it might not be appropriate to saddle his successor and the city as a whole with decades of payments using revenue that would otherwise go into city coffers.

“I don’t want to burden the next mayor,” said Daley, who was joined by Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th, at the event. “For me to leave and tell Tom and others, the next mayor, that I just took X amount of money out of his right pocket, would be — you have to look at that, what affect it would have on the budget.”

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