ALL SIDES IN CHICAGO CAUTIOUSLY EXPLORE DOME OPTIONS
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).