Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Rooftop Owner Discusses Status of Talks with Cubs

1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWMurphy’s Bleachers, in addition to being a bar across the street from Wrigley Field, is home to one of the many rooftop clubs currently engaged in a back-and-forth with the Chicago Cubs as the team seeks out ways to fund the renovation of Wrigley Field. Of particular interest to the rooftop owners is the Cubs’ plan to increase advertising revenue by way of ad signage, either along the outfield wall at Wrigley … or elsewhere. Of course, that “elsewhere” is on the rooftop buildings, if the Cubs accept a plan put forth by the rooftop owners last week. The rooftop owners are concerned that ads along the outfield wall would block their views into Wrigley Field, and effectively put them out of business.

The owner of Murphy’s Bleacher, Beth Murphy, sat down with NoozeBox to discuss the status of their conversations with the Cubs on this issue (the two sides met on Monday), and touched on a number of pertinent points. In the video, which you can see here, Murphy shares the following thoughts:

  • The rooftop owners’ meeting with the Cubs on Monday involved a great deal of information sharing, particularly about the rooftop owners’ projections regarding the advertising revenue they believe they can generate for the Cubs on the rooftop buildings, and about the feasibility of actually implementing the signage.
  • Murphy wishes Tom Ricketts, as the owner of the Cubs, was more involved in the discussions, because “we have different concerns as owners,” when compared to the business folks running an enterprise. Right now, it sounds like Crane Kenney is leading the discussions.
  • “There’s money to be made,” and Murphy wishes the Cubs and the rooftop owners and the neighborhood business could all just get together in a positive way, so that they could create something unique.
  • The City has skin in this game, primarily because of the historic and tourist nature of Wrigley Field – plus, of course, the tax dollars. If the Cubs add jobs and property taxes through the renovation, but remove jobs and property taxes by shutting down the rooftops, it might be a net loss to the City.
  • Murphy doesn’t believe the current contract with the Cubs is a bad contract. And she thought the bad feelings between the Cubs and the rooftop owners had gone away ten years ago, and it feels like they’re back.
  • The Cubs pull in the attendance they do, in part, because of the neighborhood.
  • Murphy recounts a recent meeting on these issues (before last Friday’s rooftop owners press conference where they revealed their ad signage plan) with Crane Kenney, where she says Kenney told the rooftops that they had a “$3.5 million foot in the door,” in terms of the Cubs considering the rooftop owners’ plans. That figure is approximately how much revenue is sent over to the Cubs from the rooftops annually under their current agreement (a 17% gross revenue share).
  • Murphy suggests – not in a mean way – that when the Cubs have conducted focus groups to determine how fans would feel about big ads around the outfield wall (which, incidentally, block the rooftop views), the Cubs have framed those focus groups from the perspective of, “what would you be willing to accept in order for the Cubs to win the World Series?” And that is why, according to Murphy, you see support for large ads within the ballpark. But she says the Cubs were saying the same thing back when they installed the lights in 1988.
  • Murphy says the Cubs have expressed concerns about putting up huge signs within the park that could upset fans, so they’re at least sensitive to the issue.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

70 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Rooftop Owner Discusses Status of Talks with Cubs”

  1. WI Jeff

    Thanks Rcleven,
    Not begrudging business owners who take risks to make $.
    I can’t think of another business either and since it “wasn’t nipped in the bud”, do the roof top owners have squatters rights on their views in perpetuity?
    If I was a roof top, my argument appears to start–”pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top”…… so back to a policy/stance of: give more of gross, sell out, lease or take what comes. it sucks if that was my only business income, but I am sure the rooftop owners will make out better than most.