White Sox Stadium

Jerry Reinsdorf prepared to ask for $1 billion in public money for new stadium: report

The idea to finance the new White Sox stadium, plus Guaranteed Rate Field is quite complex

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The White Sox are reportedly prepared to ask for $1 billion in public funding from the state to construct a new stadium at "The 78" near the South Loop, according to an extensive report from Crain's Chicago Business.

Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf is reportedly confident in his chances of winning over the state's approval for his complex financial plan to fulfill the goal of building an entirely new Sox stadium, in collaboration with real estate firm Related Midwest, along the Chicago River.

Reinsdorf has not officially met with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, though the report made it clear the White Sox have been in contact with state officials on the subject. 

"The two [Reinsdorf and Related Midwest President Curt Bailey] are bullish they can win state support by arguing the stadium subsidies will bring along billions more in private investment, and the deal is structured in a way to not require new or increased taxes," the report states.

The onus of the plan is to create private investment funds from housing, bars, restaurants, a 4,000-spot parking garage and parks around the stadium from the state subsidy to create funding back to the state.

The White Sox hope to use a 2% hotel occupancy fee --- meant to pay ISFA’s [Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, a government entity used for constructing sports stadiums, including the White Sox' Guaranteed Rate Field] annual debt service for their bonds towards the White Sox' stadium and the Bears' 2003 renovations to Soldier Field --- "for decades beyond when all outstanding bonds are currently meant to be paid off in 2034."

The report indicates the Bears --- who are also seeking the IFSA's assistance in building a new stadium at either Arlington Heights or the Chicago lakefront --- have not met with the White Sox to create a joint plan. The two teams will fight for the opportunity to collaborate with the IFSA for their respective stadium plans.

The plan includes extending the IFSA's bonds by 30 years, while adding a line of revenue through the aforementioned private investments, which should be enough to cover starting capital for the stadium, according to the report.

"The new ballpark is a very, very important engine for this investment, but it is a smallish component as an overall dollar amount of the project that will in many ways change the face of the city of Chicago,” a source involved in the meetings told Crain’s.

Reinsdorf also, according to the report, wishes to use the sales tax generated from the surrounding area to not only subsidize the stadium, but allow for new IFSA bonds. That sales tax, according to the report, would give Reinsdorf the funds needed to build a stadium, and also satiate the current IFSA debt.

Of the $399 million the IFSA funded towards the Bears, $384 million is still outstanding.

The extensive, complex plan needs state approval, which will be the most difficult part of the plan. Pritzker, much like other state politicians, is hesitant to use public funding on stadiums, as it rarely creates positive dividends for the city/state.

Last week, Pritzker noted that he thought renderings of a potential new Sox stadium were beautiful, but said his administration will soon have official talks regarding the plans. The governor noted the state needs "to be careful with public dollars" while asking aloud what kind of benefit the stadium would bring to the state.

The IFSA would certainly need to co-sign the plan, too, as the adjustments to their bonds are drastic. The plan leaves Guaranteed Rate Field unaccounted for, which they are on the hook for paying.

If approved, it could be a massive turning point in Chicago's history.

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