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Report: White Sox, Bears discussing “financial partnership” for new stadiums

by Joe Binder

It appears the White Sox and Bears may soon be joining forces in their respective stadium fights.

The Chicago Sun-Times says that the developer working with the White Sox on their South Loop stadium proposal is trying to establish a “financial partnership” with the Bears that could allow Chicago to build two new stadiums simultaneously.

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest — the developer that oversees the vacant 62-acre site known as “The 78” — pitched his plan in an exclusive interview with the newspaper on Monday. According to the report, Bailey claims this plan would unlock $7.5 billion worth of private investment over the next decade by building new facilities for the White Sox and Bears in one city.

“Wouldn’t it be unbelievable for our city if you were to see two amazing facilities for these great sports teams built at once?

“I’m a Bears fan. I want to partner with the Bears to create these two great environments and make our city even better. Yes, we have spoken with [the Bears] and I am very optimistic on putting together something with that great franchise. … They’re a terrific franchise, and we look forward to both trying to do something great for the city of Chicago at the same time.”

Curt Bailey, via Chicago Sun-Times

Recently, a Crain’s Chicago Business report said Illinois state legislators have told both teams that they’ll need to work together to make their stadium dreams a reality. Lawmakers would like to avoid having to, as State Senate President Don Harmon told Crain’s, “referee fights between billion-dollar sports franchises.” That way, the state can maintain positive relationships with the two teams.

According to the Sun-Times report, Bailey’s financing plan has three major parts:

  • A “35- to 40-year extension” of bonds issued by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, backed by the same 2% hotel tax increase that was used to finance the previous Soldier Field renovations.
  • A “sales tax overlay district” that would require the city, state, and county to forfeit part of the sales tax revenue generated within the project’s boundaries. This revenue would “primarily serve as back-up,” Bailey says.
  • A $450 million subsidy from the tax increment financing district created to bankroll infrastructure improvements needed to develop “The 78.” Bailey says this essentially cuts the $900 million price that Reinsdorf placed on that work in half.

As detailed in the article, Phase One of the South Loop project puts a 35,000-to-38,000-seat stadium in the now vacant lot surrounded by two apartment buildings, a hotel and office building, and dozens of bars and restaurants along a revamped Chicago Riverwalk that would extend down from Lake Street to “The 78” site.

The economic impact of the White Sox’s proposed new stadium is expected to be as previously stated:

  • $9 billion economic investment in Chicago
  • $4 billion stabilized annual economic impact
  • $200 million annual stabilized tax revenue
  • 10,000+ construction jobs
  • 22,000+ permanent jobs

As for the White Sox’s current site at 35th and Shields, Bailey told the Sun-Times that he’s “having conversations” with both professional soccer teams – the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Red Stars — about renovating Guaranteed Rate Field for their needs. Renderings for this plan also show the parking lots as being turned into a new neighborhood that would surround the soccer facility. Though the White Sox’s current lease does not end until after the 2028 season, now is the time for all options to be explored to allow for any new plans to come to fruition.

A rendering released by Related Midwest shows what Guaranteed Rate Field and the area around it could look like if there stadium is turned into a soccer facility, and housing is built on some of the surrounding parking lots. | Related Midwest

As you can imagine, there’s still plenty of work for this to become anything more than just renderings. The lastest plan laid out by Bailey plan attempts to address legislators’ demands for the White Sox and Bears to work together, and he’s confident the project would be well worth it in the end.

 “You’re talking about the largest private investment in history in the city of Chicago. … What you are getting for this public investment is a massive, massive return.”

For more on this, check out the original report by the Chicago Sun-Times by clicking here.

Follow us on social media @SoxOn35th for further updates!

Featured Photo: Related Midwest

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