The State of Illinois is considering buying Wrigley field and Lynne Kiesling thinks we sports economists need to keep touch with this base.
There is no economic model that can support the state buying Wrigley Field. The sports economists have to pay some attention to this one. It all stinks to me of political gambit. Heck, Wrigley sells out most games, and that's even when the team's having a crappy year. I am not persuaded by the argument that Wrigley's renovation requires so much capital that it exceeds the levels of private investment that a private owner can undertake.
There's got to be something from Public Choice theory that would work, but I don't think that's what Lynne had in mind. Mayor Daley quipped this morning:
The mayor said he doesn't buy the argument that Wrigley can't be modernized and turned into a "productive ballpark" without lifting landmark status. The designation didn't stand in the way of a 1,791-seat bleacher expansion.
"You can't put new washrooms in? You can't put new seats in? . . . You have to find out what they're going to change," the mayor said.
Perhaps the "landmark" of value to Illinois is not just the building itself, but the name of the stadium, something that may be up for sale. Wrigley Field is synonymous with Chicago and Illinois and calling it Sears Stadium or whatnot will obscure that to some extent.