Chicago taxpayers continue to pay for White Sox's stadium
As the White Sox’s stadium undergoes a name change, taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the stadium that was part of a ploy to keep the team in Chicago in the '80s.
While the name of the stadium will change with the approval of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the stadium, what won’t change is who is footing the bill for the stadium under this decades-old deal.
The stadium will go from being U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field, as mortgage broker Guaranteed Rate assumes the naming rights of the stadium. What isn’t being discussed is how much it costs Chicago residents in taxes each year.
Chicago taxpayers are carrying the burden of a deal that began with then-Gov. Jim Thompson and was extended by every governor since to keep the White Sox in Chicago. With the threat of losing the team to Tampa, Florida, Thompson inked a deal that used taxpayer monies to fund a new stadium. Chicago taxpayers assumed the cost of the stadium in response to threats by owner Jerry Reinsdorf that the White Sox would leave if his demands weren’t met. State politicians complied and Chicago taxpayers picked up the tab.
For the White Sox, and many teams across the country, the government has intervened and is doing their part to ensure that state residents are the ones paying for a team to stay in a city through tax increases made to support the creation of these stadiums. It doesn’t have to be this way as Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center said, “Sports teams are a business and like any other business if it’s economically beneficial to have them they can function without government help.”
While the White Sox are an example of all that is American, Huebert thinks that it’s just one of many activities that Americans can choose to spend their money on and they shouldn’t be forced to pay for it out of their pocket through taxes.
“It’s a form of entertainment,” Huebert said. “If people don’t go to the baseball game, they’ll go to the movies. It’s ridiculous that people should be forced to pay for it.”
While the deal to pay for the now Guaranteed Rate Field, was made out of a fear of losing the White Sox, Huebert doesn’t think that would be the worst for the city.
“If the White Sox left, I hope that they would be replaced by a business that’s viable in Chicago,” Huebert said. “Of course, the problem with that is the city’s policies are so hostile to new businesses coming here maybe nothing would replace it. But, that’s not a reason to force the White Sox to stay and give them more taxpayer money. We have to stop imposing hostile regulations on businesses that want to locate in Chicago so we can have good healthy businesses that want to be here.”
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