Friday, November 12, 2010

Tom Ricketts Thinks You're a Moron

Over the course of the last year, Tom Ricketts purchased the Chicago Cubs.  He's put about $10 million into stadium renovations so far, primarily to the bathrooms, which he made a pretty big deal about being very proud of.

Now the other shoe is dropping, as Ricketts is asking the State of Illinois, which, if you haven't noticed yet, is broker than some whole countries, for $200 million to make further renovations.  He would like to pitch this to the public to have us believe that it's a zero-sum game:
The family’s plan calls for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns U.S. Cellular Field, to float up to $300 million in bonds. The bonds will be paid over 35 years through amusement taxes that Wrigley Field customers already pay.
In 2009, the Cubs paid $16.1 million in amusement taxes to the City of Chicago and Cook County through the 12 percent levy on each ticket, the team said. The city and county will be guaranteed this amount for the duration of the bonds. Growth in amusement taxes beyond $16.1 million — through increased ticket sales or prices –  will be redirected to pay the bonds. The family says the incremental growth in the tax will cover the bonds.
Since the State doesn't have any money, the State needs to borrow the money, which it will then give to Ricketts.  Ricketts will then repay the money over the course of 35 years.  The problem is that this is most definitely not a zero-sum game.  First of all, the State is collecting $16.1 million a year from the entertainment tax.  This is revenue.  If this $16.1 million is redirected each year to pay off outstanding loans, that is a net loss per year of $16.1 million in revenue to the State.  With a $15 billion deficit, the State can ill afford any losses in current revenue.
Beyond the fact that Ricketts' plan would further aid in bankrupting the State, he's thumbing his nose at the State, and all of its citizens.
To deflect criticism, the family said it will spend about $200 million of its own money to redevelop land around Wrigley Field, which will create jobs and future sales taxes.
Ricketts did not provide specifics Thursday about the development plans outside Wrigley.
Yes, you caught that right.  Tom Ricketts wants the State of Illinois to foot the bill for HIS stadium, so he can turn around and spend his own $200 million buying up and renovating the surrounding properties, putting more money in his own pockets.

I have been a Cubs fan since I was eight years old.  I was excited when a lifelong Cubs fan bought the team away from the Tribune company.  Finally, it looked like we'd have someone that cared about putting a winner on the field, instead of making money off the history of the stadium.  While Tribune might not have cared much about putting a winning team out there, they never went so far as to tell the fans they were mongoloids.

Tom Ricketts just did.

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