Big Jim's magical plan | Bleader

Big Jim's magical plan

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Today's Tribune offered former governor Jim Thompson's promise of a solution to one of most baffling mysteries of our time: How the state can buy and fix up Wrigley Field without spending any public money.

Thompson, now head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, claimed to have solved what the article termed this "seemingly intractable puzzle."

Unfortunately, Thompson offered few specifics, nor did he give up much of anything to the Sun-Times. In essence, his message amounted to "Trust me, you'll see, there are ways . . ."

Thompson's original plan was to pay for the buyout and fix-up scheme with a TIF on sales-taxes, a variation on the property-tax TIF schemes we're already overridden with. Specifically, the plan called for setting aside sales taxes generated in and around Wrigley and using those monies to buy and redo Wrigley Field.

But then someone other than me -- in this case the Sun-Times editorial board -- pointed out the obvious: that this would amount to using public taxes for a private deal. Thompson was left with two choices. He could try to convince the public that the Sun-Times is wrong and that somehow or other spending sales taxes on Wrigley wasn't really, you know, spending sales taxes on Wrigley. Or he could concoct a magical alternative to using public money.

Apparently Thompson and his allies have settled on Plan B.

But in the absence of any concrete details, allow me to offer a few fund-raising suggestions. A bake sale, maybe? How about a Cubs car wash? Or officials could kill two birds with one stone by getting the Latin School to pick up the cost.

True, if Latin School soccer moved from Lincoln Park to Wrigley Field, the Cubs would have to schedule more night games--Latin would undoubtedly want the field from 3 PM to 7 PM every weekday and from 9 AM to 4 PM on weekends. And the Cubs would have to go on an extended road trip in July, when Latin would claim Wrigley for its summer camp. But hey, the pope gave the Yankees the boot from Yankee Stadium.  

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