Remember how I said yesterday that we’d have to wait till later this week for financial details of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a $300 million arena for DePaul University? Well, turns out we only had to wait a few hours, thanks to whichever City Hall sources leaked them to the Chicago Sun-Times:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a 12,000-seat basketball arena near McCormick Place that would double as a home for mid-sized shows would be built with $125 million in public funds — $55 million in tax-increment financing and $70 million in hotel taxes, sources said Tuesday.
That’s a pretty big chunk of change for what amounts to a minor-league-sized arena that would be mostly used by a private Catholic university along with, maybe, some conventions or something? And TIF money, as has been covered extensively in the past, has in Chicago in particular ended up raiding property-tax revenues that would otherwise be used for school funding — something that WLS radio reporter Bill Cameron tried to ask Emanuel about yesterday, but “he fled to his SUV and left.”
The Sun-Times article also makes it look like there’s some significant neighborhood opposition to the arena plan, with South Loop neighborhood group leader Tina Feldstein declaring, “We’re not afraid of tall buildings. We’re not asking for this to be quiet with no activity. But, we want to see it become a destination [year-round] — not a few times a year. An arena with 12,000 seats is a massive wall that’s essentially going to just deaden the neighborhood.” Mayors usually get what they want in these projects, especially Chicago mayors, but in terms of public perception, Emanuel is already digging himself a pretty big hole to start.