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Gov. J.B. Pritzker says his office to meet with developers proposing new White Sox stadium

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that his administration plans to meet with developers proposing a new White Sox stadium along the Chicago River in the South Loop.

“I know my staff is going to be meeting with them to hear the pitch, so to speak,” Pritzker said at an unrelated event in Villa Park.

The outreach by developers to the governor’s office marks a potential step forward in what could be an uphill push to bring a new ballpark to the vacant site known as The 78. On Friday, Pritzker continued to project caution on the idea of spending public funds on a stadium for the privately-owned team, beyond typical infrastructure costs, just as he repeatedly has in discussions of a new Bears stadium.

“I set out what I think are the parameters that the taxpayers expect, which is why we need to be careful about how we use public dollars,” Pritzker said. “And a private business like a professional team, even if they’re beloved by so many people, are nevertheless similar to lots of other businesses in the state.”

Still, he praised the conceptual renderings of a Sox stadium developer Related Midwest released this week, calling them “beautiful.”

“I’ve heard lots of great things, seen great pictures and drawings, and I think it would be really exciting if we had a new stadium,” the governor said.

Representatives for Related Midwest and the White Sox did not immediately respond to questions about Pritzker’s comments.

The proposal from Related Midwest has so far been speculative with no funding sources identified. The developer, which owns the site near Clark Street and Roosevelt Road, has suggested a new park could create billions of dollars in annual economic benefits and tens of thousands of jobs, though those projections were not publicly backed up.

Conceptual renderings of The 78 neighborhood, including the potential new White Sox ballpark. (Related Midwest)
Conceptual renderings of The 78 neighborhood, including the potential new White Sox ballpark. (Related Midwest)

Lawmakers would likely have to change state law to get taxpayer funding for a new stadium, as the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority — which would finance the stadium — doesn’t have available funds for the development.

Related Midwest has also proposed placing a soccer field, affordable housing and other residences in and around the current White Sox stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field. The firm does not own the land near the ballpark and has acknowledged that figuring out the land use would be a complex process.

Related Midwest previously had an initial meeting with Democratic Senate President Don Harmon about the proposed development of the area, spokesperson John Patterson said Friday. Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has met with the company as well, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, which also first reported the meeting with Harmon.

White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf met with Mayor Brandon Johnson in January, the team and mayor said in a joint statement at the time.

Pritzker on Friday touted his business ties with Reinsdorf and others involved in the proposed project.

“I’m comfortable with who they are and if they’re coming forward with plans that they think are positive,” Pritzker said. “But I have not received the direct presentation by them.”

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Olivia Olander , 2024-02-09 22:39:03

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