Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman has become something of the middle-woman in negotiations between the state and Sam Zell over Wrigley Field.

Spielman was one of the first to break the story that Zell wanted to sell Wrigley to the state as part of a convoluted transaction enabling him to get taxpayers to pay for the ballpark’s long-planned overhaul. It would also enable future owners to pay no money in property taxes which would make the team more valuable to own and hence raise the asking price. They don’t call this guy smart for nothing.

Anyway, in another article, Mayor Daley responded by telling Spielman he was against any deal that cost the public money.

Former Governor Jim Thompson, the state’s man in this affair, responded by telling Spielman he had a secret plan to pay for the deal without using public dollars.

While the world awaited the detail, Zell — or some unnamed source — responded by telling Spielman the deal was off because Zell didn’t like Thompson’s plan, whatever it was.

Thank goodness. Anyway you look at it this deal was a stinker that would — as even Mayor Daley seemed to understand — wind up diverting money from schools, parks and other important things.

Of course, I’m not sure we’ve heard the last of this proposal. Zell loves making deals almost as much as Thompson loves being part of the wheeling and dealing. Thompson’s often said that one of his greatest accomplishments as governor was twisting arms in the state house to get reluctant legislators to vote for the White Sox stadium deal.

For all we know, Thompson’s probably getting ready to call Spielman with a counter offer for Zell.