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ALL SIDES IN CHICAGO CAUTIOUSLY EXPLORE DOME OPTIONS
Published August 22, 1995
Bears President Michael McCaskey, who has stated he opposes the idea of his team playing in a domed stadium, urged IL Gov. Jim Edgar to "quickly get the ball moving" on talks to build a dome in downtown Chicago, according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Aides for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who has said he will not support a taxpayer-financed stadium, say the Mayor "will consider" a dome that "doesn't burden taxpayer wallets." The TRIB's Kiley and Pearson write that "effectively" means Daley is "giving up his push for an open-air stadium" tied to the Univ. of IL-Chicago. The "McDome" project would be tied to the McCormick Place Convention Center and is being touted by developer Richard Stein and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). "The key to the plan" is the MPEA's ability to issue bonds to cover the project's cost, with few taxpayer dollars required. Under the plan, the MPEA would issue at least $285M in bonds to build the project. Revenues from tickets, PSLs, skyboxes, advertising, concessions and parking from Bears games and other events would pay back the bonds. Taxpayers would fund related public works, similar to the $30M the state put up for improvements around the privately-financed United Center. One possible obstacle, raised by McCaskey, is how much the team would get from stadium revenues versus how much would be needed to retire the construction debt (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/21). EARLY REAX: An editorial in this week's CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS urges all sides to "focus on McDome." CRAIN'S calls for Daley to "throw his weight" behind the plan and "overcome his anger over Mr. McCaskey's threats." The editorial calls for a "modest" contribution from the city and state. "If Mr. McCaskey doesn't bite at that, we'll gladly bid the Bears farewell" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 8/21 issue). A dome in Chicago "would change the face" of the city "and alter the character of its sports," writes the TRIB's Andrew Gottesman. A dome could create a huge economic boost to the city, with events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/22). GREEN GRASS, NO SKY: Developer Stein is exploring the option of placing grass in any McDome project, according to this morning's CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Stein has reportedly talked with researchers at Michigan State who placed grass in the Silverdome for the '94 World Cup. Designers say McDome could be the first dome built with a grass field in mind, with a roof that would allow in more light and facilities to maintain the turf (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 8/22).