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Well, I say if the mayor's going to give the Cubs our money, he should at least link the handout to on-the-field performance.
In other words, don't let the team's owners squander our hard-earned dollars on boneheaded trades, lucrative contracts to over-the-hill players, and other head-scratching personnel decisions.
Think of it as performance-based pay for billionaires, sort of like what Mayor Emanuel wants to do with teachers.
Before I go further, let me say that I understand why the Cubs feel entitled to a handout. After all, every other team in town's got one.
The taxpayers paid upwards of $600 million to rebuild Soldier Field, where the Bears play. And the taxpayers forked over hundreds of millions to build White Sox Park, where—well, I think even our most sports-challenged readers can figure out who plays in White Sox Park.
The Bulls and the Blackhawks got major-league property tax breaks for the United Center.
Plus, the city council passed a law that makes it illegal to sell peanuts around the UC—effectively putting a bunch of peanut vendors out of business.
Talking about robbing from the poor to feed the rich.
But the Cubs? Nothing.
They probably would have gotten some dough a few years back, except that Mayor Daley—a lifelong south-sider—hates the Cubs. As many White Sox fans do.
Plus, he was mad at the Tribune—which then owned the team—for all the nasty things they wrote about his Soldier Field deal.
One of the few times the Trib and I have seen eye to eye.
As I understand it, Mayor Emanuel's currently negotiating with the Cubs to allow them to keep a portion of the amusement tax they would otherwise pay to the city so they can spend it rebuilding Wrigley Field.
That's like him letting you rebuild your garage with the property tax dollars you'd otherwise send to the city, schools, and parks.
I think we'll all agree this is something he's not going to be doing anytime soon.
Keep in mind, people—if the city doesn't have the Cubs tax dollars to spend, they'll have to compensate for it by raising someone else's. Namely, yours.
So if he's going to essentially jack up our taxes so the Cubs can spend their taxes on Wrigley Field, let's make sure that we get something for it.
Like a decent team to cheer for.
Thus, the concept of linking handouts to performance.
If the Cubs win, they get to keep the amusement taxes. If they lose, they've got to give it back.
We can always iron out the details later.
The point is—all of our sports teams would have long since lost their handouts, if the system were in place.
For instance, the Bears went into last season without a decent backup quarterback—a real no-no in team management. So when Jay Cutler went down . . ..
You know, I still can't bring myself to talk about what happened next.
I'd say they should pay the taxpayers at least $50 million for that.
As for the White Sox, two words: Adam Dunn.
Signing him to a long-term contract is worth at least $100 million in taxes to the state.
Well, they did win three championships in the years since the property tax break helped them build the United Center.
On the other hand, they pretty much ran Michael Jordan out of town.
At the very least, team owner Jerry Reinsdorf should have to pay my property taxes for the anguish that move caused me.
And the Blackhawks? Triple their property tax bill for letting Bobby Hull go to Winnipeg!
Almost 40 years have passed and I still haven't gotten over that.
Which brings us to the Cubs.
Milton Bradley—say no more.
This just in . . .
The Cubs lost their opener in the ninth.
Not one dime for those bums!