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Have The Bears Owners, The McCaskey Family, Pulled Off The Greatest Long Con Since Keyser Soze?

ABC Chicago - The Chicago Bears have signed an agreement to purchase Arlington Park, a spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday night.

In a statement, the spokesperson said the mayor was not surprised by that move, and that they remain committed to keeping the Bears in Chicago. The spokesperson said they have informed the team they are open to discussions.

It was first reported that the Bears had submitted a bid to buy Arlington International Racecourse in June, and drew mixed reactions from fans. It is not the first time the NFL team has considered moving the team out of the city.

The Property is 326 acres, enough to allow the Bears to build a stadium large enough to host a Super Bowl, and it could be surrounded by a year-round entertainment complex.

Let’s fuckin go!

A few months ago when we kinda, sorta broke this, it all sounded like a pipe dream. 

Now, as Eddie echoed, it seems like a done deal.

Now hear me out here. 

For as long as anybody can remember, the McCaskey family has been the portrait of ineptitude. The quintessential silver spoon-fed, blue-blooded, bumbling buffoons. 

Jonathan Daniel. Getty Images.

But has it all been on purpose?

A year ago I woulda laughed in your face if you proposed that very notion to me. But now? Now I'm not so sure.

Follow along here.

You've got a brain trust that was responsible for hiring mental midgets Marc Trestman, John Fox, Dick Juron, and Matt Nagy. A family franchise that hasn't hit on an early-round draft pick since women were given the right to vote. A group that burned a 7th overall pick on Kevin White, a 19th pick overall on Shea McClellin. 

On the outside, at face value, you'd consider the people behind the people who made these decisions horrible judges of talent, completely incompetent, and incapable of running a professional organization.

But that's what they wanted us to think.

Bears fans have been screaming from the rooftops begging, pleading, demanding the McCaskey's sell the team. 

In the past year, with Virginia becoming a year older (146 I think but don't quote me), and the Biden Administration coming into office with talks of rolling back major tax breaks, the conversation actually gained some legs.

For the nitty gritty deep dive into the subject, one which all the Barstool finance bros couldn't wait to jump all over and remind me I didn't graduate from an Ivy League business school, work at a big fancy firm, or support a coke/oxy habit with commissions off regular schlubs, like they do, you can read the original blog.

But here's the money shots- 

The McCaskey's are basically the royal family when you think of it. A family that traces its lineage back a long long time ago by to a very admirable and noble man, but who now is a cast of carnival workers dressed up in off the rack suits. Kids born on third base that think they hit triples. Silver spoon-fed ignoramuses that are so vain they refuse to bring in real football people to run the operation. They have no other real "business" or revenue stream so they run the team with the bottom line ALWAYS in mind. They are incentivized to turn a profit and spend less because that's how the family makes its money, as opposed to other ownership groups who own teams as a status symbol and run them with their fans best interest in mind. 

One of my friends Joe knows this shit inside and out as he's a big banker hot shot so I got to picking his brain on how the proposed "step-up in cost basis at death" would affect heirs to big businesses and sports teams. 

What's the "step-up in cost basis at death" you ask? Allow the big J's at Forbes to explain-

Forbes - When people inherit assets, a tax rule called stepped up basis—also referred to as a step up in basis—provides potentially huge benefits.

Assets that are passed down in a will generally have gained in value since the deceased purchased them, potentially decades ago. These capital gains are taxable when the asset is eventually sold by the inheritor. Stepped up basis minimizes the tax bill.

In the world of taxes and accounting, basis is where you start calculating capital gains taxes. Think of basis like the asset’s purchase price: You owe capital gains taxes on the value gained above the basis. The stepped up basis means that inherited assets have their basis reset to a present fair market value at the moment they are passed on to an inheritor in a will.

This is currently enshrined in Section 1014 of the Internal Revenue Code, which states the basis of an inherited asset rises to “the fair market value of the property at the date of the decedent’s death.”

Nothing puts people's brains to sleep faster than tax code talk, so to put it in a layman's terms example -

Anne is a single middle school teacher living alone in Austin, Texas, and takes home $60,000 a year, making her a typical average American. Remember, Biden has promised not to raise taxes on those earning less than $400,000, so Anne doesn’t pay much mind when the administration passes a series of tax increases.

But when Anne’s bachelor uncle suddenly passes away, he leaves her his Tampa Bay condo. Having no desire to live in Florida, Anne immediately decides to sell the condo, which fetches $600,000, a decent return on the $100,000 price her uncle paid for it two decades ago.

What would Anne owe Uncle Sam? If she were to sell the house under the current rules, she would owe little or nothing. The basis for the condo would have been stepped up when she inherited it from her uncle—from $100,000 to fair market value, which would have been the same or very close to the $600,000 sale price.

If Biden were to nix stepped up basis, then she could owe significant taxes on the inherited property. How much?

  • Anne’s gain: $500,000
  • Anne’s long-term capital gain rate: 20%
  • Anne’s net investment income tax rate: 3.8%
  • Anne’s total tax bill on the sale: $89,327.50

Remember, Anne’s not a high earner, she’s a middle school teacher. If Biden eliminates stepped up basis before, she could see her taxes on the sale of her uncle’s inherited home jump from $0 to nearly $90,000. That’s a middle-class tax hike.

So what would this mean for the McCaskey family?

If Virginia McCaskey has a net worth of, let's call it $2.5 Billion, and 99% of her net worth is tied to the Chicago Bears, (which isn't crazy to say), then based on the proposed billionaire wealth tax, Virginia would owe $75 Million per year just in the wealth tax.

($2.5 B x 3% = $75M)

Based on the Chicago Bears net operating income, and after taxes, it's safe to assume that she is nowhere near liquid enough to come up with $75 M in cash without having to free up some ownership stock or sell something. No matter how "rich" you are, that kind of liquidity isn't easy to come by. Especially annually. 

But that's just the wealth tax.

If the current administration goes through with doing away with the "stepped-up basis" it's a whole world of problems not just for the McCaskey family but for Bears nation and their hopes of one day being freed from their unjust punishment of incompetent ownership.

For story's sake, when Virginia inherited the bears from her father, her "cost basis" was whatever the Bears valuation was at the time of sale. 

The original purchase price for the Bears back in 1920, was $100 (no joke) by the iconic George Halas. 

Considering Virginia inherited the team officially in 1983, and the only teams acquired close to then were the Denver Broncos (for $78 Million by Pat Bowlen) and the LA Chargers (for $70 Million by Alex Spanos) let's say the Bears were worth $75 Million in 1983.

If Virginia were to pass away today, and the Bears are worth their latest evaluation of $2.9 billion, then all her heirs inherit the team at that value. Meaning that if they sold their shares tomorrow for $3 Billion, they would owe zero in taxes. 

Pretty sweet fucking deal.

BUT, if the Biden administration gets rid of the step-up in cost basis at death, like its pushing to, then her heirs would inherit the team at the SAME cost basis that Virginia did. Which could be that $75 Million we estimated the team was valued at in 1983. 

What this means is that if any of her heirs wanted to sell the team, they would owe tax on the $3 Billion minus the $75 million which without having to do the math you can figure out would fucking crush the family fortune and they definitely would not be billionaires anymore. 

So getting rid of the step-up in cost basis could mean the McCaskey family is tied to the Bears FOR-EV-ER

Giphy Images.

50% in taxes upon sale is bonkers.

So bottom line is, I would never wish death upon anybody, especially a nice old lady, but if Bears fans hope to see competent ownership within their lifetimes, they kind of need her to go asap OR they need a miracle and need this bill to die. 

(AGAIN, you guys know more than me on this. Just rehashing where we're at for theoretical blog purposes.)

So this was where we thought we were at.

But then the city (Lightfoot) got into a pissing contest with the McCaskey's who supposedly "asked for the world" by asking the Parks District's permission to sell signage and naming rights at Soldier Field (which they lease from these extortionists), as well as build entertainment (i.e. gambling) complexes adjacent to the stadium. You know, to generate more revenue streams like every other professional sports franchise on the planet does?

Chicago being Chicago, Lightfoot being Lightfoot, and the Parks District being the Parks District of course laughed the Bears out of the room on these outrageously obscene requests.

Giphy Images.

So things were looking very very bleak for Bears fans.

Until news broke of Churchill Downs closing up shop at Arlington Racetrack (heartbreaking) and the Bears possibly being suitors.

Lightfoot, being her typical non-polarizing, master-uniter self, accused the Bears of "posturing" and attempting to strong-arm her. Essentially calling their bluff while saying vaffanculo.

Everything was falling apart.

Somehow, bad was finding a way to get worse for Bears fans.

Or was it?

Was everything actually going according to plan?

If you look back on the chaos, and connect the dots, I theorize this was all the McCaskey's plan from the start.

One of the greatest long cons of all time. Because now look-

If the McCaskey's are actually looking to sell the team, every Bears fan's wildest dream, they can now package the Arlington park property for a new stadium. Essentially making themselves a shitload of new money. It's actually an incredible business plan.

"Hey Overlord Jeff Bezos- yah you, you bald asshole. Here's your new toy you can buy, an NFL team, and you even get to build your own cathedral to play in, in beautiful Arlington Heights. Put another Amazon HQ out there while you're at it. Go nuts."

Have the McCaskey's actually been duping us this whole time to think they're as dumb as they look? 

Not only do they have the easiest "out" of all time now to move the team out of Chicago (the most hated mayor of all time, all-time high crime rate, all-time high tax rate, zero cooperation from City Hall, stifled revenue streams, etc. etc.) something they would have been crucified for doing 3 years ago. But now they also have hungry suitors lined up (Pat Ryan, Jeff Bezos) and an incredibly attractive carrot to dangle in front of them (a new stadium and complex in Arlington).

As we all know, 

"the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn't exist."

I feel like Chaz at the end of "Usual Suspects" right now.

Giphy Images.

George McCaskey wasn't actually Verbal Kint.

Charles Rex Arbogast. Shutterstock Images.
Giphy Images.

 That mother fucker was Keyser Soze this whole time.

Giphy Images.

p.s. - for all the young stoolies who have no idea what the fuck "Usual Suspects" is, do yourself a giant favor and watch it on Netflix this weekend. Thank us OG's later.