Today, an association of the rooftops that line the outfield of Wrigley Field unveiled their proposal with respect to advertising that would help fund the renovation of the ballpark.

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.

On its face, it seems like a pretty strong offer – one that reflects the reality that the political pressure from City Hall was probably going to topple the rooftops if they took too aggressive of a stance.

On the other hand, the devil is in the details. The revenue is going to the Cubs and the City … in what proportions? Is it just the added tax revenue going to the City? Or do they take some of the direct revenue? And it’s going to those entities for the purposes of the renovation … but what about after the renovation is complete?

We’ll have to wait for those answers, I think.

Danny Ecker was in attendance at the rooftops’ presentation today, and tweeted this photo of what a portion of the ads might look like:

rooftop ads proposal

Not really much of an eyesore, all things considered.

We’ll see how the Cubs respond to the proposal, and, the truth is, there will always be details we’ll never know. All, in all, though, I will say this: if the money the Cubs could make via this plan (for the purposes of the renovation and then beyond) is relatively close to the money they could make via their own signage in Wrigley, I’d much rather the ads were on the rooftop buildings than on Wrigley, itself.

But the money question … well, that’s always the question. (Speaking of money, here’s where I say that some of the rooftops advertise on BN. That doesn’t affect the way I’m covering this story, however.)

I remain hopeful that all sides can work out something that makes everyone happy. The truth is, I still like the idea of the rooftops, and, if it’s possible, I’d rather they weren’t stamped out by the Cubs’ legitimate need to generate revenue to fund the Wrigley renovation.

The rooftops also sent out a video presentation of their proposals.

  • JulioZuleta

    At first the tweets made it sound like it’d be $10-$20 mil a year, most going to the Cubs. By the end, that number was $3.5 mil a year for 20 years. That number is not going to come close to cutting it, in my opinion. I’m the same as you, I’d rather have the signs there, rather not block their few, but at the end of the day I’m going to side with the Cubs profitting over some people who make their living by letting strangers sit on their roofs.

    • JulioZuleta

      Maybe not, Jesse Rogers just corrected his tweet. Say $70 mil over 20 is the Cub’s current contract (whatever that means).

  • JoeyCollins

    This seems like a pretty fair starting offer, and a definite sign the rooftop owners know they are not in a position of power. The money to the city part has me questioning though. Sure tax money from the ads will go to the city but i don’t like any sharing of direct revenue. If their gonna tax the hell out of the cubs that’s one thing, but sharing the revenue is ridiculous.

    • Cizzle

      That was my thought too. Why the heck should the city get a portion of AD revenues? Where does it end? Should the City get a portion of the WGN TV advertising?
      I can only imagine the rooftops offered this to the city because Rahm was putting some pressure on them…that kind of shake-down would make the mob proud.

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  • Crazyhorse

    Just like I believe that Cubs should never get any proceeds of tax revenue I also feel they should not get revenue from the advertising dollar that the Cubs earn from marketing their product.

    Now permits and building permits are a different matter and a different discussion.

    • Crazyhorse

      they (the City) should not get revenue from the advertising dollar that the Cubs earn from marketing their product.

  • Greg

    I like the idea of signage on the rooftops across from Wrigley. Although I have yet to sit on a rooftop (it’s in the plans this summer), I really like the way that the rooftops connect the ballpark to the neighborhood. Obviously Wrigley is unique in this, and it appeals to me.

    If a way can be found to get the bulk of the revenue to the team, signage on the rooftops is definitely my preference.

    • Crazyhorse

      I have been to the rooftops and yes it is a different experience. The charm is that its an inexpensive suite with the almost all of the goodies. The interaction is awesome and close knit family and friends can have almost a home feel ,yet experience the excitement of a Game. This cant be done anywhere else it a part of the charm of The Cubs and Wrigley Field . Its not the main focus of Wrigley Field its just an added enjoyment.

    • aCubsFan

      I’ve sat in the Rooftops. It’s an absolutely horrible experience and view of the stadium. Any balls hit to the outfield is cut off from view. That’s why they have dozens of monitors plastered all over the rooftop facilities.

      Paying the Cubs only 17% of revenue isn’t a very good royalty fee for stealing the Cubs product. And, based on the number of people I saw working at the rooftop I attended, I don’t see how the owners can claim the amount of people being employed by their ‘association’.

      While the idea of putting the LED signage on the ‘roof top’ buildings is interesting, I don’t see why they should get any benefit from the signage. This is why the Cubs want the signage in the the outfield bleachers so they can capture 100% of the advertising. Are the rooftop owners even paying the Cubs for advertising revenue for their website addresses being shown on TV?

      Furthermore, I don’t believe the buildings are structurally sound enough to handle the signage being attached to the facade of the buildings.

      • Crazyhorse

        i guess that is why people buy tickets to view the game inside the stadium, I think people that go to the rooftops it more of a social activity and the view of the field is an extension of that pleasure.

        But yes, depending on which rooftop one selects – it has horrible viewing but thank goodness for flat screens . but the ability to mingle and be in a group and that roof top caters to your individual and group needs at an inexpensive price make up for the obstructed plays at times. and games in April and early May when the weather can be chilly – its nice to lounge and inning or two in an inclosed area with heat. .

        • aCubsFan

          Inexpensive? I wouldn’t say that $100+ is inexpensive. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay for the ticket. Yes I would agree about being chilly in April/May. It was downright freeze cold the night of the event and game.

          • Vince Trentz

            Yeah but that includes your food and drinks 100 is pretty cheap.

  • JulioZuleta

    Hard to see the rooftops having any luck getting an injunction or anything like that in court. Their only option would probably by to sue on the breach of the current revenue sharing agreement (I have no idea what that looks like). But to sue because their view is getting blocked will probably fail. Hi-rises in the city always try to enjoin contruction that will block lake views and lower property values, but it never works. I know it’s a little bit different situation here, but I don’t think they would have a great case.

  • Mick

    Who pays for the LED displays, who decides the shape and size, and what’s in it for the rooftop owners? Is there only benefit in the agreement for the Cubs not to block their views?

    • hansman1982

      I think it’s basically the rooftop owners saying to the Cubs:

      “Hey, rather than putting up signs that would put us out of business put them over here so we can continue existing. PLEEEEEEEEEEASE, Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top????”

  • MJ

    The Eeeeevil Jumbotron/Signage the Cubs want for INSIDE the park will bring in tens of millions of dollars which can serve as an ATM when Epstoyer Inc. want to make a move for a player they really want/need, among other things. Why in the world would the Cubs want to share that with those annoying rooftoppers? I hope they tell them to go kick rocks.

    Everybody complains about going home empty handed at the end of every September, but won’t get out of the way when they’ve clearly asked to, “Let Us Run Our Business”.

  • Rcleven

    Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan

    Cubs to Roofies: Drop Dead

    On this one I have to agree.

  • MDel

    In my opinion, this Cubs / City revenue share is a negotiating ploy to get “2/3” backing. The rooftop owners want to keep unobstructed views, which this plans gets them. This proposal gives the city an opportunity to share revenue, or negotiate with the Cubs to get in on the direct earning of the signage which would be more than just the taxes, etc. of signage in Wrigley. They figure if they get the city behind them, then they have the negotiating upper hand.

    There is a lot to play out here, but I think the rooftop owners see they have little leverage in this and need to get the city behind them if they want to have minimal impact on their product.

    • Crazyhorse

      you could be correct. but lets be clear the rooftop owners are small buisness owners and like the cubs should be considered . Here lies the conflict Big Buisness Owner Vs Small Buisness Owners . Do the Cubs have an agreement with the Rooftop owners and if so Under Ricketts plan would he have to nullify those contracts to proceed with his plans ? What is the penalty ? Do the Cubs have language that protect them in a renovation or do rooftop have language that protect them.?

      As fans and tourist all we are concern is when we visit Wrigley Field and see the end product. ……….

      • aCubsFan

        They aren’t small business owners. They are thieves stealing the product of Cubs and holding the Cubs hostage.

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  • Beer Baron

    If this is so profitable, why haven’t the rooftop owners tried to do it for themselves? A lot of these companies are really struggling, especially as attendence dwindles as the team struggles. So if they could throw up a couple of billboards and bring in close to a $1 million per year, why haven’t they done it yet?

    I predict the Cubs will reject it. For one, the signs are too far away to get full value because they won’t be on most TV shots. That’s kind of big. Secondly, and most importantly, the Cubs have the upper hand in the negotations right now and the fact and they won’t need to cave. This is not the best deal for them and they know it.

    • Crazyhorse

      zoning laws might be a possibility. ?,The Cubs have no power in negotiation . .

  • hansman1982

    It will also be interesting to see what the Rooftops position will be on allowing the Cubs a say in the advertising. It may be that a company would be willing to spend more if they got some in stadium advertising to go with the rooftop advertising than if they negotiated both separately.

  • clark addison

    I think it’s significant that the rooftop owners’ video places the jumbotron in front of the Budweiser (United) building, the only one that’s not a member of their organization.

  • dash

    It seems this plan only undercuts Rickett’s desire to, y’know, run his own business.

  • matt

    To me, if the rooftops want to do all the signage “IN ADDITION” to what the Cubs want to do inside Wrigley…..that’s fine, and dandy, but in the end the Cubs need to do what they need to do. I love the look of Wrigley, and no offense, but you could line the outfield walls with Jumbotrons, ad boards, etc. if it blocked everything I still wouldn’t care. To me the view from the rooftops becomes a “you problem”. The rooftops have been sucking the revenue from the Cubs for how long, and just recently started kicking in. At this point to put a world series championship together, I wouldn’t care if the Cubs made Wrigley a dome.

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  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I dont understand why the cubs dont just obstruct the rooftops view to just make the viewing experience terrible up there and then force the rooftops hands to sell them to the cubs so the cubs could generate 100% of the revenue

  • Serious Cubs Fan


    The Cubs could definitely generate much more then $10-20 mil per year for signed and advertising around the bleachers of wrigley field. I would think more like $50 million. how much revenue does the toyota sign alone bring in?

    • Pat

      I believe the Toyota sign contract brings in about 600,000 a year. But remember, the more overall advertising there is, the less an individual sign is worth.

  • Crazyhorse

    Unlike the Cubs, small business owners (roof top owners) do not have the financial war chest nor the 5 percent business partner of the Tribune to commercialize its message to the public.

    off topic, its funny people gave Dallas Green all the credit in bringing lights to Chicago, while it was really the Media empire that gave him the power to bring his message to the people in Chicago. If the Cubs had too rely on Greens Charisma alone the man might still be bar room brawls to get his message across.

  • matt

    After reading the articles, if I’m the Cubs, I build the world’s largest jumbotron in the left field bleachers. To hell with the rooftops.

  • sperls13

    If anyone thinks the ROI on these Rooftop ad boards will be the same as INSIDE Wrigley, you are insanely wrong.

    Go back and watch a random game from last year and count how many times these spots are shown VS the more-than-likely in house advertising ideas we see at all other parks, most comparably, Fenway. There is no way companies are going to support this for the same price they would pay to advertise somewhere inside Wrigley. And the whole ‘dollars to the city’ thing, give me a freakin’ break. Enough already.

    I have always been a staunch “don’t change Wrigley” supporter, but after all of the latest details surrounding the city blowing off the Ricketts family and such, I don’t care anymore. It is THEIR business and they are getting severely hand tied in how they are supposed to run it.

    (and not to sound like a Bleacher Nation Whore, but a Rooftop related business advertising on here sounds like a pretty smart idea – definitely differentiates you from the very crowded Rooftop business marketing landscape – ps, Brett, you’re welcome :))

    • Brett

      (I want to thank you, but I didn’t quite catch your meaning.)

      • sperls13

        Sorry, too much advertising talk in one post – I meant a Rooftop owner or two advertising on and throwing you some $$$, relating to this from your post ->

        “But the money question … well, that’s always the question. (Speaking of money, here’s where I say that some of the rooftops advertise on BN. That doesn’t affect the way I’m covering this story, however.)”

        I just wanted to stress that a Rooftop owner could really get their name out to their desired demographic here at at a very reasonable price (I’m guessing). I can see how it was confusing with all of my previous adv/marketing rantage – my apologies.

      • WGNFAN

        Why don’t the rooftop owners just built their stands a few floors higher. That picture in the article all the buildings are about the same height, they could just build one or two amenities floors at the same level all across all the buildings and then on top one big stand. At the amenities floor they should have the bathrooms and food and drinks, but they could also have a bar, a restaurant or even some stores.
        I think this way they can all win since the reality is that wrigley at some point has expand at the expense of the rooftop. The only permanent solution is to go higher.

        • Brett

          There are zoning restrictions right now that would preclude it, but I do wonder if that’s been explored, given the fact that the City is already involved.

  • BD

    Can the Cubs annex the rooftops, and then connect the bleachers to the rooftops to make on giant bleachers? That would solve this situation. LOL

    • cjdubbya

      And then they’d have that 80,000 seat stadium that was bandied about last week.

      Build ALL the bleachers!

  • Can’t think of a cool name

    Read many of the comments at work but could not see the video because its blocked. My first reaction after seeing the video is that the rooftop owners are really scared. The press conference and video seem like they’re trying a preemptive strike but it seems really weak. Maybe my bias is showing but i was not impressed. Just my 2 cents.

    • Pat

      I almost wonder if they want the Ricketts to violate the contract so they can get bought out. Business has not been good the last couple years and with the Cubs getting seventeen percent off the top, I have to believe most are losing money right now. I know a couple have gone into bankruptcy. It’s a fun thing to do once, but how long can you survive with mostly one time customers. I know I wouldn’t do one again unless it was free. Unless maybe for the playoffs.

  • Barroof

    aCubsfan needs to get a better job. Rooftops are a huge part of the Wrigley charm. I hope the Cubs don’t mess with them. Keep in mind that only 20% of the fans at any given MLB game are really hardcore fans. If you don’t believe this just take a really good look around you at a your next game. Moms with kids, out of towners taking pictures, girls talking and texting on their phones, guys talking business (and about the girls on their phones) you get the idea. A baseball game is a get away from the real world. Just have fun and enjoy.

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