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Grassroots group in Illinois calling for no new tax dollars for sports stadiums

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(The Center Square) – Opposition is building in Illinois to using public tax dollars to build sports stadiums.

Both the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox have recently floated the idea of building new stadiums. The Bears purchased property in Arlington Heights for a possible stadium complex site, and now the White Sox are considering a move to the South Loop.

Tom Tresser, who founded the organization CivicLab, has started a petition in opposition to using taxpayer dollars for the projects.

“Public money being used for private projects like sports stadiums is probably one of the biggest, most egregious examples of public taking that you see around the country,” Tresser said.

Tresser notes that the White Sox new stadium plans project 5 million annual visitors, about three times what the Sox drew in attendance last year. It’s much worse when you look at what Illinoisans have paid and will pay for the Bears Stadium at Soldier Field, which is owned by the Chicago Park District.

“The city that supports their team year in and year out but the loyalty is only one way, so the Bears decided to move out of Soldier Field, which we still owe hundreds of millions of dollars on, by the way,” Tresser said.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson recently said city funding for a new White Sox stadium isn’t off the table, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he is reluctant to ask Illinois taxpayers to subsidize a new ballpark.

A major obstacle for the project to overcome moving forward exists in how the White Sox negotiate tax revenue proceedings with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, and in turn, how the ISFA handles tax revenue proceedings with the Bears.

Tresser plans to present the petition to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago City Council.

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