No, Jay Cutler didn’t throw one of his usual interceptions. Instead, Judge Mary Mason of the 1st District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the Chicago Bears had underpaid Cook County’s Amusement Tax.
The story begins when ancient Soldier Field was rebuilt in 2002 – 2003. The stadium was completely rebuilt, with premium suites added. Those suites are the subject of the dispute.
In 2007, the Cook County Revenue Department audited the Bears. The Bears priced the tickets for the seats in the suites at $104 per game. However, the suite rents for more than 100 times that. As the Chicago Tribune reported,
But Mason took the Bears to task for the $104 value the team put on a seat in a luxury suite. If the average rent for a suite is $150,000, the judge said the suite holder paid about $15,000 per game, including eight regular season and two preseason games. Dividing that figure by 20 seats yields a per-ticket price of $750.
The Bears added various fees and non-amusement services to each ticket. Judge Mason’s ruling noted that these should be subject to the amusement tax:
The absurdity of excluding the vast majority of ticket revenues from the amusement tax when the generation of those revenues is driven by fans’ desire for the ‘privileges’ associated with premium seats renders the Bears’ position untenable.
The Bears can appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.