Cheap Seats

Cubs want Illinois taxpayers to give them $200 M

Yet another reason that baseball needs some sort of financial field leveler is the fact that the Cubs apparently plan to remake their pitch to the taxpayers of Illinois for $200 million worth of "improvements" to Wrigley field.

I use quotation marks because $200 million not to long ago was the cost of an entire new stadium. And, even by today's bloated standards, it's one heckuva down payment on one. That seems to be beyond the amount of cash one would need for a new coat of paint and a scoreboard.

It's a tremendous insult to the taxpayers of Illinois to ask them to build a new toy for the billionaire owner of the Cubs when school programs are being de-funded and much needed infrastructure like roads, bridges and sewers is held together with band-aids because the state can't afford repair or replacement.

The Cubs are located in the third-largest media market in the country. They play in front of large crowds who pay sky high prices for seats -- and they have a lucrative television deal because of the number of eyeballs they can attract in such a large market.

So why can't they afford to fix their own ballpark -- sort of how the Giants, Cardinals and other clubs have paid the bulk of the freight for new or improved facilities? In short, they can. They just don't want too. And what do the taxpayers get in exchange for their investment?

Are we supposed to believe that the Cubs will pull up stakes and leave town if they don't get their way? I have an idea: How about the Wee Bears move to the south side and share the White Sox' park. It's already got all the modern amenities like luxury boxes and video boards. And that wouldn't cost the good people of Illinois a dime.

If the Cubs are successful in duping the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois to guilding their nest, that needs to be something Major League Baseball takes into account. It's an unfair advantage for clubs who sucker the little guy into building them a palace when the other teams have to pay a crippling mortgage payment every month on their stadium.