Steve Chapman

Wrong. "These things may affect where people spend, but not what they spend," says University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson. People allocate a certain share of their budgets for entertainment. Absent the Cubs, they will go to movies, concerts, museums, White Sox games, Six Flags Great America or Navy Pier.

But it's not as though the Cubs would be absent. Blessed with one of the biggest markets in America, and fans who turn out win or lose, they are not about to pick up and move to Nashville.

So they should be thinking of how to make the best of their location. A new park would rid the Cubs of their maintenance headaches, while providing them better ways to relieve fans of cash -- lots of luxury boxes, better dining, new shops and diversions.

It would allow the team to hire better players and pamper them in style. The architect could lovingly re-create the treasured features of the existing stadium, while omitting the shortcomings.

I am not immune to the appeal of Wrigley, though I was wearing a Cardinals cap the last time I went. But I am immune to the appeal of using tax dollars to enrich a private business. If you own a building that is falling apart, you should either sell it, spend the money to fix it up or admit it's not worth saving -- not ask your neighbors to pick up the tab.

The Cubs can command ample resources. They have the third-highest ticket prices in baseball, and they outdraw 23 other clubs.

Sure, lots of other teams have gotten government help with their parks, including the Bears and the Sox. But not only were they also bad deals for the public, they were made in an era when our governments had plenty of money to waste.

That day, you may have noticed, is over. Could be Wrigley Field's time has passed as well.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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