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Rahm, Preckwinkle to talk Wrigley rebuild at Cubs opener

Thursday, April 05, 2012
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Ah, to be the proverbial birdie with the big ears at Wrigley Field for the Cubs' opener today.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are both scheduled to be at the game and, in fact, I hear they'll be sitting next to each other. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that Ms. Preckinwkle will be filling the mayor's ear with more than sweet nothings.

As the world now knows, Mr. Emanuel clearly has made progress with Cubs' management on a proposed deal to rebuild Wrigley, but may have sort of jumped the gun when he declared the other day that a pact is in the "final stages."

That may be the case with the city. But Mr. Emanuel also needs the state and county to sign on, and those conversations just have begun with a flurry of chats this week among team officials and folks in the County Building and in Springfield.

Of particular concern is that the deal under discussion apparently would involve the county waiving part of the amusement tax. In other words, Ms. Preckwinkle would have to give up some cash ó a difficult matter for her, given that she's in the process of cutting the county's sales tax.

So don't be surprised if, somewhere in between the first pitch and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," Ms. Preckwinkle suggests something that would cost her treasury a little less. Or, in the alternate, give her a payback in the event that revenue from the rebuilt stadium comes in stronger than expected. Something she could hang her hat on.

Will the Cubs have a creative solution? Is Rahm prepared to deal not just with the team but the head of a co-equal government?

Ah ... to be that birdie!

Meanwhile, cold beah heah, please!

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