Former Gov. James Thompson will temporarily lead the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority following the departure of executive director Perri Irmer, who has managed the agency since 2004.

Thompson, who is chairman of the ISFA’s board, will serve as interim executive director until a permanent replacement is named.

The board terminated Irmer’s contract at a meeting last week. Her contract expired last year and she had been retained on a monthly basis since then. The Chicago Tribune quoted Thompson as saying that the board wanted to move the agency in a different direction.

The sports authority was established in 1987, while Thompson was governor, to manage the financing and operations of a new ballpark for the Chicago White Sox. The ISFA’s $150 million of bonds, sold in 1989 for the project, are backed by a state appropriation and repaid with hotel taxes.

The authority issued $400 million in 2001 to finance the renovation of the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field. The bonds are repaid with the same tax-revenue stream.

The owners of the Chicago Cubs last year pressed for legislation authorizing the ISFA to issue more than $200 million of revenue bonds to help finance renovations to Wrigley Field, the Cubs longtime home on the city’s north side, but it did not come up for a vote.

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