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Let the Cubs pay for their own fixer-upper


We've seen this Cubs game before and, without a doubt, it's a lousy one.

The Chicago Cubs' new owners, like the previous owners, are making a move to hit up Chicago taxpayers to the tune of $200 million to pay for renovations at Wrigley Field.

The money ultimately would come from 35 years of future growth in an amusement tax that the city levies on tickets and concessions at Wrigley.

That's money that otherwise would go straight into the city's tapped-out general fund -- money the city desperately needs for essential services such as paved streets and police and fire protection.

It's money that would have to be made up somehow.

If this deal goes through, future Chicago mayors could be forced to raise taxes and fees elsewhere or cut basic city services even more deeply.

And for what-

To fix up a privately owned baseball park for one of the most profitable sports teams in the country.

Talk about a corked bat.

Tom Ricketts and his brothers and sister are grown-ups. They knew exactly what they were doing last year when they bought the Cubs and Wrigley Field from the Tribune Company for $845 million.

They can pay for their own home improvements.

As we say, we've seen this game before. When Tribune boss Sam Zell was trying to sell the Cubs and Wrigley in 2008, he tried to persuade the state to buy the ballpark, which would have made Zell an extra few hundred million dollars.

Zell and his allies tried to sell the idea to the public by saying it would guarantee the old ballpark was renovated and "saved" for future generations.

But, as we said then, this was a ballpark in no need of saving. Anybody could see that.

Wealthy investors, including the Rickettses, were lined up outside Wrigley Field, all eager to buy and cherish both the team and the park. Everybody knew the Cubs aren't the Cubs without Wrigley Field.

Perhaps the worst part of the current scheme is how it has popped up out of nowhere, just in time to be rushed through the state Legislature during the fall veto session. Senate President John Cullerton has agreed to sponsor the bill.

This is a classic case of government sticking its nose in a matter best left to the marketplace -- and at your expense.

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