Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cub bailout? No, hell no, no!

Ricketts & Co. making play for taxpayer-funded renovations to Wrigley Field and surrounding area.
Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts tried Friday to calm the uproar. In several radio interviews, he said Cubs fans are on the hook, not the at-large taxpayer on the South Side, in Peoria or in Carbondale.
That's not quite true, is it Mr. Ricketts?
The bonds also would get a better credit rating with additional security, much like a co-signer on a loan. The Cubs' proposal calls for the bonds to be backed by a hotel tax that is used by the sports authority to repay debt for U.S. Cellular Field and Soldier Field.
And then there's this:
Ricketts argued that the city and county can't count on incremental revenue from the Wrigley amusement tax if the Cubs don't refurbish the 96-year-old ballpark. The growth in the amusement tax will primarily come from increasing ticket prices. Ricketts said it's easier to justify higher tickets prices over time in a renovated stadium.
Then refresh my memory - what was the justification for raising prices for the 2010 season?  The 2009 season?  Etc?

From Ticket News on the 2010 season:
Also raising prices by 10.1 percent this year, the Chicago Cubs take the title of the highest average ticket price in the league, at $52.56. The Boston Red Sox, which historically charged some of the highest ticket fees in the league, came in second this year at $52.32. The Yanks come in third at $51.83.
Interesting.  The Yankees are the 2009 champions, while the Red Sox won championships in 2007 and 2004.

I'm so flaming irritated by this naked grab for taxpayer money that I have heartburn.  How handy that slack-jawed State Sen. Cullerton is already prepped to introduce the legislation to authorize the Illinois Sports Facility Authority (ISFA) to issue bonds backed by city & county amusement tax revenues.  And that it was announced after the election.

With this state/county/city in a death spiral of bond rating downgrades, who in their right mind would buy those bonds?  Backed by amusement taxes in a depression no less!  (Oh sure, NBER said the recession ended summer of 2009.  Other than Washington, who pays attention to those idiots?)

And if I hear one more idiot talk about the benefit sports teams bring to the economy I may get violent.  Sports teams, professional and amateur, do not generate extra revenues in the metro area.  What they do is redirect discretionary spending away from other neighborhoods.  And in the Great Recession the discretionary spending is evaporating to nothing.

Benefits of pro sports on economy often overstated

Pro Sports Impact Closer To A Bunt Than A Homerun
(University of Washington)
To warm up his audience, [UW Professor] Beyers held a "pop" quiz. "I'm going to give you three different percentages for the economic impact of sports on the local economy, and you raise your hand for what you think is the right answer," he said.
"Ten percent." (A good number of hands rise.) "One percent." (A majority of hands are held high.) "One-tenth of one percent." (Hardly a hand in the air.)
"The correct answer is 1/10th of one percent, and even that is probably overstating it," Beyers told the crowd.
Well, we certainly can't let that information get in the way of a bond issue!