Editorial: The South Siders are considering pulling up stakes and heading out of town. Et tu, White Sox?

Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

For those with time to waste, the ongoing series of “joint statements” attributed to Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren offer a summertime diversion.

Consider this gem from June: “Today we met and discussed our shared values and commitment to the city of Chicago, the importance of deep roots and the need for equitable community investment throughout the city.”

Take that in for a moment: A team moving to Arlington Heights, at least until Arlington Heights taxpayers resisted being taken to the financial cleaners, has the gall to talk, and then talk some more, about the importance of “shared values” and “deep roots.” Unbelievable.

Are you seriously thinking of staying, Bears? Then spit it out. And tell Arlington Heights what’s up.

But even while all that hypocritical nonsense still has to play out through “productive conversations,” yada, yada, we now have to worry afresh about the Chicago White Sox moving adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry instead of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

It’s enough to make you reach for the Tums.

Didn’t the Sox just get a new stadium and didn’t Cubs fans just have a good laugh at that downward-pointing arrow outside Guaranteed Rate Field? The logo has proved prophetic, and we’re not talking about mortgage rates.

News broke Monday night, first in Crain’s Chicago Business, no doubt thanks to an overly chatty potential buyer, that the White Sox are also contemplating their options, as sports teams like to say when saying nothing.

Crains’ Greg Hinz reported that 87-year-old White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was thinking about exiting the team’s stadium near the Bridgeport neighborhood when the lease expires in six years or maybe even selling the struggling team. High-growth Nashville being a perennial name on the list of big cities seeking an MLB team, Tennessee is said to be a likely destination.

Sox heartburn is nothing new, of course.

In his book “The House That Madigan Built,” Tribune reporter Ray Long recalls how, in 1988, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan joined with then-Gov. James Thompson to make “time stand still” and get a new stadium deal approved after the Sox had threatened to move to St. Petersburg, Florida, which had offered a bucketload of incentives from the public purse. Madigan, who is now awaiting trail on unrelated criminal charges, shoved through Springfield a Byzantine but effective late-night stadium financing deal even as the clock struck midnight, thwarting Florida and retaining the Sox for Chicago.

Now here we are again with another threatened move by a Chicago sports team that, not unlike its home city, clearly has much about itself to fix.

What to do?

These days, the pendulum of fiscal importance has shifted from the stadium itself to the area around the stadium. In Wrigleyville, the Ricketts family, who owns the Chicago Cubs, have developed a big hotel, numerous retail and leisure projects, and even an ice rink in the winter, not to mention a sportsbook. The family also has acquired most of the iconic rooftops, effectively expanding the stadium without actually doing so. The rooftops acquisition also has increased Wrigley’s viability as a concert venue: One of the buildings now serves as the star dressing room for the likes of Bruce Springsteen. Wrigley Field is not just a multipurpose stadium, it’s surrounded by income-generating assets.

But in Wrigleyville, that development was mostly done for competitive advantage, even though the neighborhood undeniably has been enhanced. Wrigleyville was doing just fine before the Rickettses showed up. And it would have done just fine without them.

The underdeveloped area outside Guaranteed Rate Field is a very different prospect, and encouraging its use would not only be attractive to a baseball team in that stadium but also create a big asset for Chicago’s South Side. It could offer new jobs and anchor what could be an expanded visitor-friendly area, pulling people south and bringing their money with them.

Here’s a chance for Johnson to spur major development in a challenged area and not to preside over the exit of two Chicago sports teams. That’s the key here: creating something akin to what the Detroit Tigers have done in downtown Detroit. And there is more available space than was the case in Wrigleyville.

Neither Chicago nor the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the state entity that built and owns Guaranteed Rate Field, wants to have to find alternative uses for Soldier Field (not that difficult) and Guaranteed Rate Field (very difficult). In our view, the stadium does not need replacing, but it could be overhauled and integrated into an exciting fan and leisure zone in a neighborhood that could use that kind of investment. That should be done with private moneys, but the city can and should be the cheerleader, facilitator and incentivizer.

So, White Sox, pray don’t leave your fans behind. Chicago can and could support two MLB teams, and the Crosstown Classic should not become a thing of the past.

We now face months, and maybe years, of nonstatements from all the parties involved as the inevitable productive conversations and evaluation of all available options take place.

We’d rather cut to the chase and say this to Reinsdorf: Illinois took care of your late-night needs in 1988, and you now have the chance to show your loyalty in return.

And to Johnson? Here’s your chance to support a world-class project in an underdeveloped part of the city.

Once the stonewalling stops, there could be a parade of moving vans down Interstate 65. Or a victory for all sides.

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