Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And the title for biggest sports-team moocher in Chicago goes to . . .

Posted By on 05.29.13 at 01:21 PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks at the future construction site with CEO of McCormick Place Jim Reilly, left, and the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, DePaul University President.
  • Andrew A. Nelles/Sun-Times Media
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks at the future construction site with CEO of McCormick Place Jim Reilly, left, and the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, DePaul University President.
As part of my ongoing research to determine which team in Chicago is least deserving of the handout that we, the taxpayers, are dumb enough to give them . . .

I go to a Cubs game.

Had a great time—thank you, Ricketts family!

I bought hot dogs, beer, peanuts, soda pop and a seat in the far left-field corner—just outside of Naperville. The whole day cost me close to $100.

So now that I think about it, the Ricketts family should be thanking me.

And what did I get for my money? Another wretched Cub loss. In this case, a one-run heartbreaker in which the Cubbies blew a lead to the dastardly New York Mets. A team I still have not forgiven for 1969.

But back to the issue of which team least deserves the handout we give them . . .

It's not the Cubs, as bad as they are, because they do not, at the moment, receive a handout.

Basically, the Cubs pay their way, and therefore do not divert precious resources from our public schools, parks, hospitals, police, firefighters, etc.

Who all can use the money far more than any sports team.

I say "at the moment" because as part of their convoluted scheme to renovate Wrigley Field, the Cubbies are apparently cutting a deal with Mayor Rahm to get a property tax break.

And if know my mayor, he's eager to give it to them.

As for the other sports operations in town—well, that's a different story . . .

The Blackhawks and the Bulls haven't paid their fair share of property taxes since the United Center opened back in 1994.

So shame on them.

The Bears talked Mayor Daley into wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in hotel taxes to rebuild Soldier Field, and we got a team whose idea of offense consists of Jay Cutler scrambling for his life.

But pound for pound, Chicago's champion moochers remain the White Sox. They suckered the state into building them a ballpark, charging them next to nothing for rent, allowing them to keep the concession revenue, and exempting them from property tax.

It's no wonder the Sox don't seem to care that hardly anyone shows up for their games. You don't really need to sell tickets when you're getting subsidized by the state.

But say this for the Sox—at least they play their players.

Which brings me the newest contender for the shameless handout crown . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your DePaul Blue Demons!

They're primed to consume about $33 million in property tax dollars that would otherwise go to the schools and parks so the city can buy land for their new basketball arena near McCormick Place.

As if there's not tons of vacant, cheap land all over town on which they could build.

Here, read about the deal, if you haven't already.

Of course, DePaul doesn't pay its players—the basketball proceeds go to the school. Which may explain why they have $70 million to waste on a new basketball arena when they already have a perfectly good arena on their north side campus.

Yes, I know, DePaul's basketball players play for room board and tuition. But in terms of salary, the Blue Demon b-ballers—like college athletes everywhere—may be the only folks in town who make less money than fast-food workers and charter school teachers. The two growth industries in the age of Mayor Rahm.

My advice to DePaul is to ditch this deal. Leave the mooching to the pros.

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