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HomeSportsWhen are we going to learn our lesson about subsidizing sports stadiums?

When are we going to learn our lesson about subsidizing sports stadiums?

With the recent Super Bowl, it is a good time to remind ourselves that billionaires have found one more way to fleece the public: sports stadiums. And if we don’t “play ball,” they’ll take our favorite teams away by moving them to a new location. (Please see the Chicago Bears’ recent activity.)
A good example is the talk of building a new Sox ballpark on vacant land that’s part of “The 78” development at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street.
A new Sox park (now known as Guaranteed Rate Field) opened in 1991. Sox owners had threatened to leave Chicago unless they got taxpayer help to build a new stadium. The threat worked, and taxpayers are still paying a bill of $430 million for the park, whose design was an atrocious affront to baseball fans when it opened, and an overhaul of Soldier Field.
Now Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is floating yet another plan for a new stadium, even though the current arena is more than functional. And, predictably, like all team owners do, Reinsdorf will try to sell his project by claiming that the new stadium will increase economic growth, even though many studies have shown that the benefits of new stadiums are mainly realized by team owners alone.
According to the developer’s unsubstantiated economic impact projections, the new field would generate a $9 billion investment, $4 billion in annual economic impact and $200 million in annual tax revenue.
The plans predict the park will draw 5 million annual visitors — about triple what the Sox drew in attendance last year — and projects 1,300 new housing units will be added, including affordable units. The plans also show a soccer field in the Sox’s current park. Wow!
Maybe we should all take a moment to listen to Allen Sanderson, a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago who studies the economics of sports. He said he’s skeptical any new sports venue, including a new downtown White Sox ballpark, could on its own generate billions of dollars in new investment. Sanderson said it’s more realistic to expect only about 10% of the promised economic impact.
So, once again, the billionaire owner’s pipe dreams are being sold to the unsuspecting public. Of course, once again, public financing will be needed. When are we going to learn our lesson?
— Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park
Indianapolis is a sports town
The Feb. 14 editorial addresses what Chicago needs to do to compete with Las Vegas for major sports events (“Las Vegas is chomping on Chicago’s sports lunch. What can be done?”).
Seems to me we can’t even compete with next-door neighbor Indianapolis. Aside from the iconic Indy 500, the city has hosted the 2012 Super Bowl and AFC Championship game in 2007 (in a retractable-dome stadium). It is home to the NFL Combine and has hosted NCAA and Big Ten Men’s basketball championship games, the National Invitation Tournament, the Big Ten Football Championship game and more.
Meanwhile, we are still bickering about what taxpayer-funded venues will next host the Bears and White Sox.
— Mike Sheahan, Oswego, Illinois
Pigeons are beautiful? I disagree.
As someone who lives near Wabash Avenue in the Loop and who is constantly avoiding flying pigeons and their poop, I must take exception to their recent portrayal in the Tribune as beautiful birds (“Love for the ‘underbird,’” Feb. 12).
I think they’re best described by the concierge in the movie “The Producers”: “He’s up on the roof with his boids. He keeps boids. Dirty, disgusting, filthy, lice-ridden boids. You used to be able to sit out on the stoop like a person. Not anymore! No, sir! Boids!”
— David Grossman, Chicago
Helping reentry for ex-inmates
Regarding Paul Vallas’ op-ed “Real criminal justice reform would be job training programs” (Feb. 14): Having worked in correctional facilities for several decades, first as a layman and then as an ordained minister, I have seen two additional forms of rehabilitation that greatly improve a citizen’s chance of success when he or she returns to a community. The first is participation in interdenominational congregations of any faith during incarceration. The second is working with reentry volunteers following release. Both substantially reduce the prospects of recidivism.
Beneficial relationships are formed while assistance is provided in finding housing, transportation, employment and general support. These faith-based and ecumenical organizations wouldn’t replace job training, but they could complement current programs that help people succeed upon release. The nonprofit Prison Congregations of America, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, helps facilitate startups of congregations inside and reentry teams outside.
— Pastor Paul E. Stone, Eagle Grove, Iowa
She hasn’t missed a single day
Reading some of the published letters about appreciation to the newspaper delivery people, I just would like to add ours. We have had the pleasure of Rosemarie Mitchell delivering our daily Tribune right to our doorstep every morning for over 20 years. If the weather is inclement, the paper is always wrapped in plastic sleeves. She hasn’t missed a day through the most recent snowstorm and in the never-ending rain. We want to give her a big shout-out and say kudos to her!
— Danealle and Jeff Kueltzo, Oak Lawn
Exceptional delivery in NWI
I want to add my thanks for my local deliveryman, Armando Arellano.
I moved from Chicago to Portage, Indiana, seven years ago. My family growing up had gotten the Tribune delivered my entire life. I continued when I left home.
Needless to say, I was very pleased to learn I was still able to get the paper delivered here in northwest Indiana.
Armando has been exceptional in all weather! I’m 75 now, and he sees that the paper is on my porch, just outside my door. It’s a thoughtful gesture in these times and sincerely appreciated.
I will continue to be a fan of the paper edition as long as possible. Thanks, Armando!
— Kathy Maratto, Portage, Indiana
A joy to get the newspaper
Each morning, after I open my blinds and glance out the window, I spot my Chicago Tribune encased in plastic on the porch right in front of my entry door. I’m retired and in my mid-80s, and it’s a joy to just open the door and reach down for my newspaper. Ernesto Delgado, my deliveryman, no matter the weather conditions, has punctually and with great care delivered my newspapers for many, many years.
My typical morning begins on a high note reading the Chicago Tribune while sipping a cup of coffee. Although we’ve never met, I want to thank Ernesto for his work ethic and dedication to those of us who are recipients of his efforts. Thanks, Ernesto. I appreciate you more than you will ever know.
— Carole A. Slavens, Evanston
Starting the day with Tribune
We would like to heartily thanks James Corbett for his faithful, efficient delivery of the print edition of the Chicago Tribune seven days a week. The Lambin family over generations has been subscribing to the Tribune for some 75 years — or more. We start our day with the Tribune and that first cup of coffee. Thank you, James, for being so consistent and reliable.
— Helen and Rosemary Lambin, Chicago
A challenging task to do daily
The paper is always there when I look for it. I know how hard it is to wake up early seven days a week to bundle, load and deliver the paper. My wife and children did it for several years. So thank you, Nicole Salazar, for your service!
— Eugene A. Pigozzo, Oak Lawn

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