The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the government agency that built and owns The Cell, paid $3.2 million for construction of the restaurant plus just about everything inside the place, from walk-in refrigerators to bar stools, the Tribune and WGN-TV found in a joint investigation.
Another $3.7 million from the agency went for infrastructure upgrades for water and sewers at the Gate 5 plaza that made the restaurant possible.
A 2010 agreement between the Sox, who selected Gibsons Restaurant Group to run the business, and the agency shows that at the project’s completion, the team was exempt from owing the agency any money. That arrangement contrasts with the management agreement for operating the stadium, which stipulates the team pay rent and make payments based on attendance.
The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority agreed with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf that the agency should not share in any restaurant profits.
The restaurant is built on public land.
Former governor Jim Thompson chaired ISFA at the time and played a role in the deal.
“The Sox pay the state $2.50 for every ticket from 1.2 to 2 million, yet the team also gets back $5 million a year for stadium repairs and maintenance. In addition, the state buys 300,000 tickets if attendance drops below 1.5 after the year 2001, so in actuality, Reinsdorf got public funds to build his stadium and subsidies to guarantee its profitability.”
That’s right. The state – meaning taxpayers – buys tickets if Sox attendance falls too low.
Occupy Cellular Field. If you don’t, you pay anyway.