Weather Updates

City Hall insider tied to Chicago Park District ad deal

Updated: August 23, 2013 6:07AM

The Chicago Park District has an advertising contract with a company with ties to Robert Bobb Jr., a venture capitalist who helped former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s son make more than $700,000 on a Wi-Fi deal with City Hall.

For eight years, Bobb and his cousin Brian Bobb have co-owned Cardinal Outdoor, which bid for the park district contract last year.

When the district picked an advertising firm last Sept. 6, it hired AdTraction Media, a new company created by Brian Bobb operating out of the same Loop office as Cardinal Outdoor. AdTraction got a second contract last Dec. 12.

A spokesman for Robert Bobb says he has nothing to do with AdTraction, which has moved to new offices. Brian Bobb couldn’t be reached.

Robert Bobb, a friend of the former mayor, was a co-founder of Cardinal Growth, a venture capital firm seized by the federal government in hopes of recovering $21 million in loans made to the firm.

Cardinal Growth used the taxpayer-backed loans to finance investments in companies that included a sewer business that won lucrative city deals while Patrick Daley and his cousin, Robert G. Vanecko, held a secret ownership stake. Cardinal and Patrick Daley also had a stake in a company that landed the Wi-Fi contract at Chicago’s airports.

AdTraction has gotten two contracts from the park district to sell ads on park bike paths, in concession areas and in “as many locations as possible to attract as many brands as possible in order to maximize revenue.”

It has sold $105,293 worth of advertising and, under terms of its deal, keeps 60 percent. The park district so far has made about $42,177 from the ads.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.