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Business News/ News / Illinois Governor Pritzker Is ‘Reluctant’ to Tap Public Money for White Sox Stadium
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Illinois Governor Pritzker Is ‘Reluctant’ to Tap Public Money for White Sox Stadium

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is “a bit reluctant” about the idea of using taxpayer dollars to finance a stadium as three different Chicago professional sports teams float tapping public funds.

Illinois Governor Pritzker Is ‘Reluctant’ to Tap Public Money for White Sox StadiumPremium
Illinois Governor Pritzker Is ‘Reluctant’ to Tap Public Money for White Sox Stadium

(Bloomberg) -- Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is “a bit reluctant" about the idea of using taxpayer dollars to finance a stadium as three different Chicago professional sports teams float tapping public funds.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf last week went to the state capitol to seek support as he explores building a new stadium in Chicago for his Major League Baseball team. The Chicago Red Stars management is also asking for the National Women’s Soccer League team to be part of such discussions. These efforts follow the roughly two-year effort by the National Football League’s Chicago Bears to erect a new stadium in the city or one of its suburbs.

“The idea of taking taxpayer dollars and subsidizing the building of a stadium as opposed to, for example, subsidizing the building of a birthing center, just to give the example, does not seem like the stadium ought to have higher priority," Pritzker said in response to reporters’ questions about the White Sox proposal during a press conference Monday on maternal health initiatives. “We’ve seen other teams be able to support their own stadiums privately. That would be ideal here, and I think that’s something that I would encourage."

The teams’ pitches are looming as Pritzker and state lawmakers are set to negotiate his proposed $52.7 billion spending plan for next year. During last week’s budget address, the governor said his budget for the year starting July 1 “makes some hard choices" as costs for migrants, health care and education rise. Pritzker has proposed raising levies on sports betting and extending caps on corporate tax deductions to help eliminate the state’s first deficit in three years.

US state and local governments have historically subsidized projects like stadiums to spur spending and tax revenue, even though many economists have warned that money could be better invested in other ways. 

Pritzker noted that while his staff has seen a presentation from the White Sox organization, a case has not been made to him directly.

“The information that we have gotten so far is still very limited," Pritzker said, referring to Reinsdorf’s proposal. “How the taxpayer is going to benefit from this still hasn’t been put forward to us."

A spokesperson for the White Sox didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A representative for the Bears referred to a past statement highlighting the economic, employment and tax revenue benefits of their proposed stadium. Red Stars President Karen Leetzow said women’s soccer should be included “to make a major statement that women in sports are just as important as men in sports."

“Over the last century, as local and state governments have invested in professional sports stadiums, women’s professional teams have never been included," Leetzow said in an emailed statement. “A true commitment to equity means that women’s sports have a seat at the table when there are discussions about public/private partnerships to build the next generation of sports stadiums. 

Crain’s Chicago Business was first to report the Red Stars’ request.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 27 Feb 2024, 05:19 AM IST
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