No Public Dollars for Sports Stadiums

Mayor Johnson and Chicago City Council

No Public Dollars for Sports Stadiums

We demand that NO public dollars and no public land be given to any billionaire owner of a sports team - be it the owners of the Chicago White Sox or the Chicago Bears.

The news is full of reports of greedy local major league sports teams making aggressive pitches for billions of public dollars for new stadiums. We have the McCaskey Family who own the Bears – estimated net worth of $2 billion and Jerry Reinsdorf who owns the White Sox – estimated net worth of $2.4 billion, looking for a combined $2 billion (at least) in public subsidies.

A quick word about the public dollars we have already showered on the White Sox. From the Chicago Tribune:

In 1988, Reinsdorf scored big in Springfield when legislators approved a last-minute deal that led to the construction of Guaranteed Rate Field, where the team’s lease runs through 2029. The stadium was paid for using money raised through an increase in the Chicago hotel room tax, while the city and state also each kick in $5 million per year. The sports facilities authority still owes $50 million on the current Sox stadium, which opened in 1991, and $589 million on the 2002 renovation of Soldier Field. Those bonds are supposed to be repaid with a 2% city hotel tax and the city and state’s annual contributions. But those funds weren’t enough to cover the debt in the past two years, forcing the city to pay $36 million extra to cover the difference.

The White Sox new stadium plans project 5 million annual visitors – about three times what the Sox drew in attendance last year. It’s much worse when we look at what we have paid and will pay for the Bears Stadium at Soldier Field, which is owned by the Chicago Park District. According to Y! Sports and the Chicago Tribune:

Illinois lawmakers created the Sports Facilities Authority in 1987 to build a new Comiskey Park for the Chicago White Sox, whose ownership had threatened to move the team out of town. The state agency owns what is now named Guaranteed Rate Field, and still owes about $51 million for that as well. The Sox pay about $2 million a year in rent. The Soldier Field deal originated with Mayor Richard M. Daley, but the Emanuel and Lightfoot administrations increased the debt by refinancing it three times, in 2014, 2019 and 2021. The state and city pay $5 million a year to the fund aside from the hotel tax. By the end of the deal, the total amount paid will have grown to $743 million.

By the way, attending a game at one of these stadiums is not cheap. It will cost a family of four an average of $140 to attend a Major League Baseball game in 2024.

You have to ask, what is the need for spending public dollars on sports stadiums in light of all the pressing needs Chicago faces? There is none that can stand serious scrutiny. If you want to review the vast literature on why public subsidies for sports stadiums are a terrible deal for the public take a look at these web sites:

So - NO public dollars for new stadiums, for a dome for an existing stadium, for practice facilities for sports teams or any other mega-project owned by billionaires.

Let mayor Johnson know how you feel: 312-744-5000 - @chicagosmayor -

Petition by
Thomas Tresser
Chicago, Illinois
Sponsored by
Chicago, IL

To: Mayor Johnson and Chicago City Council
From: [Your Name]

Do not authorize any gift or public land or money to subsidize any sports stadium in Chicago. This includes direct gifts of cash as well as indirect forgiveness of taxes and other obligations that the stadium owners should be covering.