New report about the Chicago White Sox proposed new stadium does not look good

The Chicago Sun-Times looked into who really owns the land the Sox want to build a new stadium on.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
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It is bad enough that Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf wants the taxpayers to pony up $1.9 billion to pay for a new stadium.

Jerry is hoping to get about $1 billion from the state by basically adding on more debt that was used in the first place to build Guaranteed Rate field and renovate Soldier Field. A debt by the way the taxpayers are still paying off and the Rate opened in 1991 and Soldier Field's renovations were completed in 2004. He then hopes to get another $900 million from the city.

Remember Forbes estimates Reinsdorf is worth about $2.1 billion. Hey, you do not become a billionaire by spending your own money, am I right? Hashtag sarcasm by the way.

Reinsdorf could easily privately finance building a new stadium. He did it with the United Center, but he also had Michael Jordan drawing in massive crowds for the Chicago Bulls (the other team he owns) and the Chicago Blackhawks to help pay the mortgage.

Reinsdorf is hoping to build a new stadium in the South Loop on the vacant property known as "the 78." He hopes this brand-new park will anchor Chicago's new 78th neighborhood once it is built, hence why it is called the 78. Asking for the taxpayers to pretty much fully fund the project was a bad look on its own.

A new report on the majority owner of the land makes this proposed stadium project look even worse.

Chicago Sun-Times reporters Tim Novak and Frank Main did a blatant act of journalism by digging into who owns the land that Reinsdorf is fixated on building his legacy.

Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Shakir Auchi is the majority stakeholder and has been trying to develop the land for two decades.

This is a guy who has been denied a visa by the State Department, was convicted by a French court of fraud in an oil scandal and was imprisoned in Iraq for two years along with 76 other members of Iraq's Ba'ath Party for an assassination attempt on Iraq's prime minister in 1959. Saddam Hussein was one of those 76 members convicted.

It is not a good look to have ties to that man even if Auchi has lived in exile in London once Hussein claimed power. Auchi's attorney denied in the report that he even knew Hussein and that Auchi did not commit any crime even though he was convicted in France. His sentence was suspended according to the report and never spent any time in jail.

Auchi got involved with the land after former Governor Rod Blagojevich's fixer, Tony Rezko needed to sell his stake to cover legal bills. Rezko was later convicted and went to prison in a kickback scandal. Blagojevich's legal troubles are well documented too.

Related Midwest is the company that bought a stake in the 78 to develop it. When the property tax bill seemed to be a bit high according to the Sun-Times, they hired the law firm of then-Aldermeran. Edward M. Burke to get the tax bill reduced. The powerful former alderman was convicted of bribery and corruption in December.

The report did mention at the end of the story that the 10-acre land Jerry hopes to build the stadium on would be owned by the state. Whether it is donated or sold, a new stadium would not be officially built on the land owned by Auchi.

Still, the optics are terrible as the Sox want to build a stadium practically fully funded by the public where only Reinsdorf will benefit on a site that would be once owned by a twice-convicted Iraqi billionaire who was denied a visa with ties to corrupt former political officials.

Suddenly Jerry knowing that Pedro Grifol should have been fired last year and did not does not seem so bad compared to this new story.

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