Tuesday, June 25, 2024

White Sox South Loop Stadium Project Gains Momentum With Powerful Union’s Approval

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The odds of a new White Sox stadium being built in the South Loop received a big boost over the weekend. On Friday Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the Chicago Federation of Labor was voicing its support for the project. 

The Chicago Federation of Labor is a powerful labor union and represents the third-largest central labor council of the National American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The CFL’s president, Bob Reiter called the project “very exciting for the city.” 

“Creating this neighborhood on that tract of land that’s been waiting to be developed for such a long time is going to be great and this is the right project,” Reiter told Crains’s Chicago Business. “It’s going to create 10,000 construction jobs and 22,000 permanent jobs.”

The CFL has proved to be a prominent political force. In 1983, the CFL unanimously endorsed U.S. Rep. Harold Washington in the Chicago Mayoral election. Later that year the Illinois General Assembly passed the Public Employees Bargaining Act, which guaranteed public employees the right to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. Mayor Washington spearheaded the Public Bargaining Act. 

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In 2007 the CFL organized a presidential forum of candidates, which helped boost Senator Barack Obama’s campaign en route to his eventual presidential run.  In 2009 the state passed a large state capital bill after union workers ratified a 10-year contract in the run-up to Chicago’s Olympic bid. 

Getting the CFL’s president to endorse the project has major implications. Historically it is hard to get any large project done in Chicago without union support. The White Sox would like to build their new stadium on “The 78”. The 78 has 62 acres of undeveloped land near the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Clark Street. Related Midwest owns the property. 

There are already plans in place to build a large academic building, the Discovery Partners Institute, which will be the first tenet at The 78. The Dicovery Parters Insititute is included in the stadium renderings

The project for the new academic center is being overseen by the Illinois Captial Development Board. The Discovery Partners Institute would be built on a one-acre parcel on the south end of The 78. They are set to break ground on the project sometime in 2024.

However, outside of The Discovery Partners Insititute, mega-development on the site has hit a lull. The White Sox would provide a much-needed boost for their efforts to find additional funding and tenets, with their stadium serving as the anchor of The 78. 

According to Crain’s, Related Midwest has already met with Reiter. They have also already secured Tax Incremental Financing that would help support the project. Instead, Reinsdorf and the White Sox are expected to request state legislators to authorize the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to extend or issue new bonds, utilizing the existing 2% hotel occupancy tax currently allocated for repaying bonds associated with Guaranteed Rate Field. This proposal doesn’t involve imposing a new tax; rather, it aims to extend the duration or potentially introduce new bonds.

The noise surrounding the stadium White Sox new stadium project has been growing increasingly loud over the last several weeks. 

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson told reporters last week that he has already had conversations with Reinsdorf about the stadium project. 

“I’ve had really good conversations with the leadership of our sports teams,” Johnson said. “A really good conversation with Kevin Warren and the Bears. My conversation with Jerry was very positive. One of the things that I did appreciate in their presentation is that what they’ve been considering is the way new stadiums should and could look, that they have community benefits.” 

A few days later ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan, reported that the White Sox new stadium in the South Loop was “basically a done deal.” 

On Jan 26th the White Sox announced that they were bringing back SoxFest in 2025. The 2025 season will mark the 125th anniversary of the organization and seems like the perfect event to announce a new stadium deal. 

All signs are pointing to the 2028 season being the last time the White Sox call 35th and Shields home. 

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