Chicago mayor seeks taxpayer alternative on Soldier Field renovations

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Bonds funding Soldier Field’s $660 million renovation are repaid with a portion of Chicago’s hotel tax, assuming revenue grows 5.5% per yearGETTY PICTURES

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is ‘committed to finding a long-term solution’ to allow city taxpayers ‘to pay Soldier Field’s renovation obligations whenever hotel tax revenue falls below the growth rate rose” incorporated into the 2001 funding plan, according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. For the second year in a row, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority “does not have enough money” to pay off $415 million in “unpaid debts”. Most of this is “related to the renovation of Soldier Field completed long before the Bears agreed to purchase the closed site of Arlington International Racetrack for the construction of a new stadium.” Bonds funding the $660m stadium renovation are ‘paid for with a portion of the city’s hotel tax’ – but this financial package ‘also assumed that hotel tax revenue would grow by 5.5% per year’ . When it doesn’t, Chicago ratepayers are “expected to make up the difference.” Lightfoot “refused to say what a long-term solution would look like” or “what alternative revenue streams beyond the hotel tax it would tap into.” She would say “only that whatever the new funding plan is, it wouldn’t tie her hands when it came to renovating, expanding or domeing Soldier Field in an attempt to entice the Bears to stay. in Chicago” (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 3/11).

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