More Details Emerge in Proposed Deal for Wrigley
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 7, 2009 4:40PM
Photo by ArnK
More details in the proposed deal between the Tribune Company and the Illinois Finance Authority to sell Wrigley Field - also referred to as "Project Elwood" - are emerging. The Associated Press obtained a memo dated November 19 via the Freedom of Information Act that details a complex agreement which would have had the IFA set up a company to lease Wrigley Field to the news Cub owner at $25 million a year for 30 years with the IFA retaining 95 percent of the interest and the Tribune Company retaining 5 percent; the deal also called for a $300 million state loan for upgrades to the stadium. According to the AP report, the Tribune Company would have netted up to $45 million from the deal.
The agreement carries the logos of the finance authority and the Cubs and appears to have been sent from the Tribune's law firm to an attorney representing the state agency. He then forwarded it Nov. 25 to [Finance authority chairman William] Brandt and the agency's executive director, John Filan, asking to set up a time to discuss the proposal. In a separate e-mail Nov. 24, the lawyer said state officials had removed the logos "for now."
Even after [then-governor Blagojevich's] arrest, Brandt suggested the Wrigley deal could go forward, particularly because baseball revenue, and not taxpayers, would repay the loan.
But e-mails released to the AP show Tribune's bankruptcy gave him pause.
"No use of tax dollars is one thing, an IFA-assisted bailout is quite another," Brandt wrote on Dec. 7, when alerted to a news report that Tribune was preparing a request for protection from creditors.
Brandt tried to distance the authority from the deal when speaking to the AP, saying the deal was the desire of the Tribune Company. Said Brandt, "The IFA was nowhere near that deal."