Now *this* is an Obsessive Watch.
Expectedly, the Chicago Cubs – or, more precisely, the Ricketts Family – had a response ready and waiting for today’s proposal by the rooftop owners outlining Wrigley Field. For those who missed that proposal, I wrote about it earlier today:
Essentially, their offer is this: if the Cubs agree not to block their views, so that they can keep operating on a revenue-sharing basis with the Cubs (under the current agreement, 17% of the revenue goes to the Cubs, the rooftops keeps the rest), the rooftops will pass on all revenue from new ad signage to the Cubs and the City. The new ads will largely be digital signage, and the rooftops estimate it could generate from $10 to $20 million annually, based on a study from the Platt Retail Institute.
My initial take was: it seems fair on its face, so long as some questions are answered, and so long as the money the Cubs could net by way of the rooftops ads is comparable to what they could net within Wrigley Field.
That last one was a big “if,” and it sounds like the Cubs don’t see comparable value.
“A deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city of Chicago to move forward,” Ricketts Family spokesperson Dennis Culloton said today, per the Tribune, before turning to the advertising proposal. “Inside the ballpark is going to be infinitely more valuable than advertising outside the ballpark.”
And that may very well be that. If it is true that there is no advertising cooperation that generates nearly as much money as the Cubs could, themselves, generate within the ballpark (in a way that doesn’t destroy the character of Wrigley Field, and thus negate some of that value), it’s going to be difficult to proceed in tandem with the rooftops short of an alteration of their current revenue sharing agreement (which presently pays the Cubs 17% of the rooftops’ revenues).
Unfortunately, this fight feels like it is on the precipice of getting ugly. Not only do the Cubs not seem receptive to the rooftops’ proposal, but the rooftops ejected a Cubs employee from their presentation this morning, according to the Tribune’s report.
A protracted dispute – particularly one that involves the courts – is in nobody’s best interests. Time is critical to the Cubs’ efforts, and litigation is both slow and expensive. Speaking from experience, it is also wildly unpredictable. The Cubs obviously need to protect their right to generate as much revenue as they possibly can, but I’m hopeful that everyone proceeds cautiously from here.