Former Gov. Patt Quinn proposes referendum on use of taxpayer money to fund Chicago sports stadiums

Craig Wall Image
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Former Gov. Quinn proposes referendum on use of taxes to fund stadiums
Former Illinois Governor Patt Quinn proposed a November referendum to the Chicago City Council on Wednesday about use of taxpayer money for stadiums.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn asked Chicago City Council members Wednesday to put a referendum on the November ballot to let voters have a say in whether taxpayer money will be used to help build new sports stadiums.

The Chicago White Sox are looking to build a new stadium, possibly in the South Loop. The Chicago Bears would also like an upgrade to Soldier Field, with discussions underway about a new lakefront stadium.

Quinn has gone on the offensive, filing a referendum with the City Clerk's office to let voters weigh on whether either team should get taxpayer subsidies to build new facilities.

"I think the people of Chicago are sports fans, big time sports fans, but we're also fans of the taxpayer," Quinn said. "We've got to make sure that everyday people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, get a fair shake."

The former governor, who has advocated for many referendums through the years, said he had not run the new referendum by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, but he called on Johnson to follow his campaign pledge to give more voice to the people of Chicago.

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Quinn paid for his own poll on the issue which he said shows nearly 66% of Illinoisans are opposed to the Bears or the White Sox receiving taxpayer subsidies for new stadiums. About 24.7% of those he polled said they supported taxpayer subsidies, and 9.5% were not sure.

"The best poll is the one at the ballot box where the people themselves in a presidential election year, get a chance to express their opinion," Quinn said. "They should be the ones who really count the most."

The chairman of the budget committee, 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin, said there are more considerations than just voter sentiment.

"I think we need to look at the benefits or see what the costs are," Ervin said. "And if the benefits outweigh the costs, then it's something we should move forward with."

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Quinn's referendum did get support from a voter at the City Clerk's office.

"Do you want to help pay for it? You want your taxes to go up? I don't," voter Shirley Peck said. "I don't want to help pay for it. No way."

Quinn is asking for the proposed ordinance to be introduced at the April 17 City Council meeting, which he plans to attend.

The mayor's office declined ABC7's request for comment.