Bears, White Sox projects in spotlight as Royals, Chiefs referendum fails – NBC Chicago

As the Chicago Bears and White Sox seek opportunities to secure public funds for new stadiums, a high-profile project in Kansas City was rejected by voters Tuesday.

Voters in Jackson County, Mo., rejected a sales tax that would have helped fund a new downtown baseball stadium for the Kansas City Royals and major renovations to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas Chiefs City.

More than 58 percent of voters rejected the plan, which would have replaced the existing three-eighths of a cent sales tax that funds the Truman Sports Complex. The new tax would have been in effect for the next 40 years.

The Royals had pledged at least $1 billion as owners of the project and would have used their proceeds to finance a roughly $2 billion new district.

The Chiefs had committed $300 million in private funds to renovating Arrowhead Stadium and reportedly used that money for an $800 million overhaul of the stadium.

The loss comes as the White Sox and Bears are pushing for public assistance to build new stadiums. The White Sox are seeking funding from the state of Illinois for a new stadium project in the South Loop, while the Bears are exploring financing options for a new stadium just south of Soldier Field on the lakefront from Chicago.

These plans have drawn some skepticism from public officials at the city and state level, and some leaders are even proposing ideas aimed at giving taxpayers additional input into the decision.

Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn filed an order in the city clerk’s office in March asking the city council to place a referendum on the November ballot allowing voters to decide whether their tax dollars will be assigned to stadium construction projects.

“What we want to do is give the people of the city a chance to vote on this issue in November,” Quinn told reporters. “I think Chicagoans are sports fans, big sports fans, but we are also fans of the taxpayer.”

The referendum would directly ask taxpayers about the proposed White Sox and Bears plans.

Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren gave a candid look at the current status of the team’s plans to build a new stadium in Chicago, what it means for the future of their Arlington Heights property and more Again. Lexi Sutter reports.

“Should Chicagoans give grants to the Chicago Bears or White Sox to build a new stadium or real estate development?” the text reads.

While both teams are seeking public funding for new stadiums, their current homes have not been fully paid off, according to NBC 5 Investigates.

Quinn believes projects approved in the 1980s and early 2000s should have received more scrutiny.

“At the time, the city of Chicago did not have the opportunity to vote on whether turning Soldier Field into a spaceship was a good idea,” Quinn said. “Let the people speak, the people who pay the taxes, who are the heart and soul of our city.

The Bears recently turned their attention away from the multimillion-dollar Arlington Heights property to focus on the lakefront downtown. Executives said they would invest $2 billion in the project, but it’s unclear where the rest of the funding would come from.

With the Chicago Bears and White Sox both seeking public funding for new stadium development, newly obtained internal emails show that Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office pushed to publicly present a united front with the Sox after meeting owner Jerry Reinsdorf in early January, NBC Chicago’s Mary. Ann Ahern reports.

The timing of the lakefront announcement came just weeks after White Sox President Jerry Reinsdorf met with executives in Springfield to ask for at least $1 billion for a new stadium.

Quinn conducted and paid for his own poll through Blueprint Polling before filing the ordinance Wednesday. According to the numbers he provided, 65 percent of voters opposed taxpayer subsidies, while 25 percent supported them. The others weren’t sure.

“The best polling is at the ballot box, where people themselves can express their opinions in a presidential election year,” Quinn said.

He tried to pass a similar referendum nearly 25 years ago for renovating Soldier Field, but the City Council did not vote to include it on the ballot.

The proposal will be presented to city council members and Mayor Brandon Johnson on April 17.

NBC Chicago

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