Chicago Tribune sports columnist Phil Rogers has chimed in on the notion of kicking back $200 million in tax money to the Cubs so his employer’s former baseball team can renovate Wrigley Field, and he thinks it’s a spiffy idea. Why? Near as I can summarize it:
- The White Sox, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks all got public money, so “why shouldn’t the Cubs get their share?” (In logic, this is known as the “But all the other kids have got one!” fallacy.)
- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts doesn’t just do what’s “popular with their fans,” like signing free agents or hiring Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg to be manager.
- “Rather than simply pledge allegiance to a continued stay in Arizona, they explored a move of spring-training operations to Florida.”
- Wrigley Field costs $10 million in maintenance each offseason, and in a renovated Wrigley “that money — along with the proceeds from new or improved revenue streams — to be shifted into baseball operations.”
Nowhere in the article, you’ll notice, is anything supporting the subhead: “Investment in a solid sports team is a solid one for a city” (unless you count Ricketts’ assertion that spending public money on Wrigley would be “a no-brainer”). But when it’s a matter of giving taxpayer money to an unconventional owner bold enough to shake down Arizona for spring-training money, just so he can increase his player payroll (and/or profits), who’s going to quibble over economic details?