Feb 20, 2024 - News

White Sox pitch Illinois legislators on stadium plan

stadium rendering

A rendering of what a new stadium could look like at "The 78" in the South Loop. Rendering courtesy of Related Midwest

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf on Tuesday pitched his plan to build a stadium district in the South Loop to Springfield legislative leaders, with one big request: $1 billion in public funding.

Why it matters: A new stadium could bring a huge economic boost to the city and state ā€” or become a massive economic albatross around taxpayers' necks.

Context: The White Sox and developer Related Midwest released renderings this month of a potential stadium complex on "The 78" megadevelopment site, including mixed-use housing, retail and parking.

  • Gov. JB Pritzker has signaled he wouldn't use taxpayer dollars to finance a new stadium, but he's also said he's open to hearing any plans.

By the numbers: To free up capital to build the stadium, Reinsdorf and Related Midwest reportedly want to use revenue from the 2% hotel occupancy tax and extend bonds through the Illinois Sports Financial Authority (ISFA) for 30 years.

  • The White Sox would also ask the state to fund a special taxing district.
  • The developer would look to include private investment for the retail and housing planned for "The 78."

Reality check: The state is still paying off the original 1991 deal for Guaranteed Rate field.

Yes, but: The Sox reportedly are willing to pay down the ISFA's longstanding bond debt for Guaranteed Rate and cover Soldier Field's debt from the renovation in 2003. The idea is to replace the existing debt with the new debt.

The intrigue: The state has only enough borrowing power to fund one new stadium, which both the Sox and the Bears want.

  • According to Crain's, the two teams are not working together and instead are feverishly competing in Springfield.
  • The city has yet to comment on the pending plans, and it's unclear whether officials would also kick in funds for the project.

Between the lines: It isn't a perfect situation for either team to build a new city stadium.

  • Questions of parking have dogged the Sox proposal (the new plan calls for only 4,000 underground spots), and the Bears have signaled they want to build on the lakefront, which parks advocacy groups oppose.

What they're saying: "We are mindful and respectful of the legislative process and wanted to travel to Springfield to meet personally with legislative leaders," a White Sox spokesperson said in a statement.

What we're watching: No legislation regarding the pitch has been proposed yet in the Illinois General Assembly, but North Side Rep. Kelly Cassidy weighed in on X (formerly Twitter) slamming Reinsdorf's pitch.

  • "Couldn't even bother with the usual not quite a billion demand and just going full Dr. Evil. Not a penny, pal."

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