Bears Stadium

City rejects revenue stream concept for Bears, White Sox joint stadium funding plan: report

The teams proposed using a piece of the city's amusement tax to help the shortcomings of the ISFA

NBC Universal, Inc.

Illinois state leaders have told the Bears and White Sox they won't support separate public funding plans for their respective stadium aspirations.

In an attempt to meet everyone's needs, the Bears and White Sox have been working to create a joint public funding plan that can satiate the necessities of both teams, the city and the state.

But that's no easy task, as proven by the city's recent rejection of a part of the teams' joint plan.

According to Crain's Chicago Business, the city rejected a proposal from both teams to use the city's amusement tax from ticket sales at their respective stadiums to help the debt of the ISFA (Illinois Sports Facilities Authority) bonds attached to both Guaranteed Rate Field and the 2003 Soldier Field renovations.

"The ISFA’s current debt is backed by a 2% tax on hotel stays in Chicago that is meant to provide enough revenue to meet its annual debt payments," Justin Laurence wrote for Crain's. "When that revenue falls short, like it has the past three years, Chicago’s portion of taxes that the state doles out annually to municipalities is used to cover the difference.

"To bring more tax revenue to the overall pie to be divided between the teams, an idea to set aside the portion of revenue from the city’s amusement tax on ticket sales at the stadiums was floated to the city but apparently rejected, according to sources familiar with the meeting."

The amusement tax, according to Crain's, is a 9% tax on entertainment services including sporting events, theaters and concerts. The tax is projected to bring in around $262 million in 2024, according to the report.

It's unclear at this juncture where the teams plan to bring in more tax revenue to help support the ISFA bonds.

Initially, the White Sox constructed a plan to generate taxes from a myriad of places, including sales tax revenue from the surrounding area of their hypothetical stadium. The 2% hotel tax was part of that plan, but they didn't intend to raise the tax as part of their plan.

The Bears, on the other hand, haven't drawn up their public funding plan. They did, however, say they would need public funding for infrastructure i.e. sewers, roads, etc. to support that aspect of the stadium. The Bears said this during their town hall meeting with Arlington Heights in June 2023.

Both teams will continue trying to find a solution to get both teams public funding. However, the clock is ticking, as a General Assembly in May could alter support from state legislators.

That being said, the Bears have the upper hand in a scenario where the city/state chooses one plan. Remember, the Bears will undoubtedly have the opportunity to generate more revenue with an enclosed, year-round stadium with a larger-scaled operation.

"I think it will make sense for them to work together because there is the danger that they 'won't get picked' if they try to go in alone. Admittedly, that risk is lower for the Bears, but it is still there," Economist/Davidson College professor Fred Smith said in a text conversation with NBC Sports Chicago in March.

Click here to follow the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us