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White Sox discuss new stadium prompting questions on how to pay for it

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(The Center Square) – In the wake of the Chicago Bears announcing they may want a new stadium, now the White Sox may want new digs too.

The team’s lease at Guaranteed Rate Field, where they have played since 1991, expires after the 2029 season. The White Sox struck a deal with the state after there were rumblings they would relocate to Florida. Illinois taxpayers still owe $50 million on the bonds used to construct the current stadium, and those funds still need to be retired.

The team may be looking to stay on the South Side, at a parcel of land in the South Loop known as “The 78.” There are also rumors of a possible move to Tennessee after White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell during the baseball winter meetings.

White Sox developer Related Midwest has not asked for state money, but Crain’s Chicago Business reports they want the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to rearrange bonds that are backed by a hotel tax, a similar way that Soldier Field was renovated for the Bears.

As for using taxpayer funds for a new stadium, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state needs to be careful with public dollars.

“Taxpayer dollars are precious and so the question really is what benefit financially are they bringing fiscally to the state, the city and the county,” said Pritzker.

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, said it is unlikely the state of Illinois could afford to pitch in.

“It certainly would drive some economic development for sure, build it and they will come, but I don’t know if today and with this budget that we can be helpful,” said McCombie.

Related Midwest released a statement when revealing the renderings of a new stadium.

“The development would be a catalyst for the creation of Chicago’s next great neighborhood, create tens of thousands of permanent and construction jobs and bring a state-of-the-art White Sox ballpark to the South Loop riverfront,” said the statement.

The Sox and Related Midwest are hoping to engage Springfield for a massive financing package this spring, the Chicago Sun-times reports.