The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is considering building a bond-financed 20,000-seat assembly hall adjacent to the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago.
Mariana Knittle, the authority's spokeswoman, said a study is under way to determine whether a printing plant near the convention center can be converted into a amphitheater. The current occupant, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, plans to vacate.
James Fricke, the authority's director of budgets and treasury management, said financing for the facility could come from unused bonding authority that Illinois gave the agency for expanding McCormick Place. Last December, the authority sold nearly $869 million of bonds backed by revenues from a special tax package for the expansion, leaving about $69 million of unused bonding authority.
Fricke said that other funds could come from an advance refunding of some of the December issue's debt to help pay for the assembly hall, which could cost as much as $1 00 million.
The project would need to be authorized by both Illinois and Chicago.
However, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago last week called the plan "the nuttiest idea he ever heard," according to his spokeswoman, Noelle Gaffney. She said Daley believes any excess money collected by the authority should be refunded to taxpayers.
A spokesman for Gov. Jim Edgar said he did not know Edgar's position on the plan.