The Tribune Co. wants to see the Cubs and Wrigley Field. It’s having trouble doing so. Here’s my take. I’d like to write a letter to the editor, but I’m not quite sure how to put it.
First, who put former Gov. “Big” Jim “Taxaholic” Thompson in charge of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority? Why would anyone trust that sleazy bastard? He was Tax Increase Champion, at least until former Govs. Jim Edgar and George Ryan came along. Thompson built Comiskey Park for the White Sox owners with $175 million of taxpayer money the state didn’t have. Now he wants the State of Illinois to buy Wrigley Field? And he insists it won’t cost taxpayers anything? And we’re supposed to believe this guy?
The state certainly has an interest in keeping the Cubs in Illinois, and the city has an interest in keeping the Cubs in Chicago. The Cubs produce a geyser of tax revenue. The ticket prices include sales and entertainment taxes. The food is taxed at restaurant sales tax rates; the liquor the same, plus excise taxes; the ticket brokers pay licensing fees; and there are taxes on gift shoppe items, hotel stays, and restaurant meals related to fans looking for places to eat. Cub fans visiting from out of town go shopping, too. The Cubs create a cottage industry.
With that in mind, the state should not tell a private business, the Cubs, where to operate. Oh, the state wants Wrigley Field to remain as it is, including that stupid pathetic scoreboard? Fine. It would be a popular tourist attraction if the Cubs were to leave. The best way to keep the Cubs in Wrigley Field would be to let the Cubs run it the way they want to. Let them raze and renovate the main grandstand. Let them play as many night games as they want! Thompson and his minions come off as meddlers in this situation. If they would let the Cubs make a private sale, and indicate their approach to the ballpark will be hands-off, then of course the Cubs would stay in Lakeview. Of course they would continue to be a successful ballclub and hot tourist attraction. But trying to take control and telling the Cubs what to do with their ballpark doesn’t help anyone.