now in its one-hundred-and-eightieth year
CHICAGO WAS SHOCKED to learn this week that, in these tight times, both Rahm Emanuel and Toni Preckwinkle believe it’s the public’s duty to help improve the privately owned ball park of one of the nation’s wealthiest families.
That’s right, people: the Ricketts family needs OUR HELP. They’ve just discovered that the stadium that they bought with their eyes wide open in 2009 needs some upkeep, and, despite their deep knowledge of how money works (they founded the on-line brokerage Ameritrade), the only solution seems to be: public money, public support, and public sympathy.
At least, that’s the line that two of our most powerful officials began selling us this week. Somehow, both the mayor and county-board president expect us to agree with them and continue to support them, even as they “explore” ways to waste our money.
Aiding the wealthy and resourceful capitalists who own Wrigley Field is simply not conscionable at a time when public dollars are so scarce, and the PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE of our city is crumbling.
Let’s be honest. We all like going to Wrigley Field, but this is not a public property. The Ricketts bought this team out of love, not necessity. Now they’re discovering it’s an expensive hobby, especially when the ball team itself isn’t top quality. We know they have the wherewithal to meet the demands of running a sports franchise, because their bid received careful scrutiny within Major League Baseball before being unanimously approved less than three years ago. According to Forbes, the value of the Ricketts’ investment has since increased by an estimated $73 million.
Consider the resources that the Ricketts family, as capitalists, have at their disposal. They could pay for capital investments at Wrigley Field by adding a one-cent surcharge onto every stock transaction Ameritrade handles. They could seek partners to share ownership of the team. Tom Ricketts is founder and CEO of InCapital, a corporate-bond brokerage. He could raise the money needed for Wrigley with corporate bonds. Finally, there’s bank lending. There are innumerable ways the Ricketts could secure their own financing.
The bottom line in all this: the owners of the Cubs COULD pay for the improvements at Wrigley Field, but they prefer not to. Instead of shouldering the burden of paying for improvements to their own company, they would like Chicago citizens to pay. And the mayor and the county-board president? They, too, hope that you’ll be willing.
Will this deal be, as Tom Ricketts put it, a “real win” for Chicago? No. If there is a deal, the win will be in the Ricketts’ column.
Image: Courtesy of the photographer, Bob Horsch,
via Wikimedia Commons.