The White Sox are reportedly seeking $1 billion from Illinois to fund the new stadium

The Chicago White Sox's asking price for their new stadium has become a topic of interest, and it's not small.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is preparing to ask Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other state leaders for nearly $1 billion in public money to fund construction of the team's proposed stadium in the South Loop, according to Justin Lawrence of Crane Company in Chicago.

For perspective, that amount of money would cover the majority of the purchase price of an entire MLB team, as the Baltimore Orioles recently sold for a valuation of $1.75 billion. It was the White Sox According to Forbes estimates Worth $2.05 billion last year.

Earlier this month, the club revealed its plans to move into the currently unoccupied 78 South Loop project near Clark Street and Roosevelt Road. The stadium will replace Guaranteed Rate Stadium, which opened as Comiskey Park in 1991, the last stadium of the era before Camden Yards transformed the aesthetics of modern ballparks.

Reinsdorf and Curt Bailey, president of the Midwest real estate firm Related, will reportedly seek public funds by making the long-disputed argument that state investment in the stadium will bring billions more in private investment into the surrounding area. (Economists were not impressed with the idea that stadium revenues cover public investments.)

“A new stadium is a very important driver of this investment, but it is a small component as an overall dollar amount for a project that will change the face of the city of Chicago in so many ways,” said a source involved in the meetings. Crane said.

The Crain's article goes into great detail about the financial and political dynamics at play here and should be read in its entirety to get a full view of the hurdles, but even the basics paint a messy picture for the White Sox.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 25: A view of the Chicago White Sox logo prior to an MLB regular season game between the Minnesota Twins at the Chicago White Sox on July 25, 2019, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joseph Weiser/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Home of the Chicago White Sox… for now. (Photo by Joseph Weiser/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Essentially, the White Sox are seeking to claim revenue from a pre-existing 2% hotel occupancy tax and extend it for decades beyond 2034, when bonds owed to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority were due to be paid off. The ISFA is currently there to pay for the 2003 renovation of the Chicago Bears' Soldier Field.

Hotel tax revenues were already struggling to cover debt service for Soldier Field's bonds due to declining hotel revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic. You may remember the Bears navigating the public financing game in search of their new stadium to replace Soldier Field. They are said to be in direct competition with the White Sox for Illinois money.

Reinsdorf also reportedly wants Illinois to create a tax overlay district for the 78 properties that would hand over the state's portion of sales taxes generated in the district, estimated at about $400 million, over an undisclosed time period.

Finally, this project appears to need a total of $551 million in infrastructure funds to support the stadium (CTA Red Line station, streetscape improvements, etc.), which will be covered upfront by Related Midwest and will be paid for by the City of Chicago.

The White Sox have reportedly declined to comment on all of this, but the game being played here is clear. Reinsdorf did the same a few years after he bought the team for $19 million in 1981, threatening to move it to Tampa unless Illinois paid for the stadium he now planned to leave.

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Reinsdorf then succeeded. Whether he does so now will depend on how desperate Illinois is to prevent Chicago's second-leading MLB team from leaving.

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