As arguably the most prominent media institution in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune still holds a place of relative import when it comes to all things Chicago Cubs. Throw in the fact that the Tribune’s parent company – the Tribune Company – still holds a 5% stake in the Chicago Cubs, and the Tribune’s words on Cubs matters carries a fair bit of weight (if not water).
So, when the Tribune puts out an editorial on the Wrigley Field renovation/ad signage/rooftop buildings battle, it’s worth a look. And the Tribune’s position on the difficult balance the Cubs face isn’t too far off from my own. A section of the editorial:
To us, [the proposed ads on the rooftop buildings] looked nicer than any billboards-inside-the-park view we can imagine. But the signs’ revenue-generating potential is less about what’s pleasing to fans inside Wrigley than about what’s pleasing to the television cameras. The closer the cameras zoom to the action on the field, the less likely they are to frame a sign on a rooftop across the street.
So ads mounted to the back of the bleachers will almost certainly bring in more money than ads mounted to buildings outside the park, and the rooftop owners should be prepared to offer more concessions, including a bigger share of their receipts, to make up the difference.
That proposal to give rooftop ad revenue to the city is likely a non-starter. The team isn’t asking for public money to make improvements. There’s no reason private advertising revenue should be shared with or controlled by the city ….
Still, rooftops shouldn’t be a casualty. The owners say they provide hundreds of jobs and millions in real estate, amusement and sales taxes. Like it or not, the rooftops are a de facto extension of Wrigley Field. When TV cameras pan the cityscape, they capture images of hundreds of fans enjoying an over-the-fence view from beyond the outfield walls. They don’t stack bleachers on top of buildings in Baltimore or Seattle or even on Chicago’s South Side. It’s pretty cool.
That’s the tricky part. The Tribune’s editorial includes a fair bit of nuance, so don’t let that selection there tell the whole story for you – give it a read.
As I’ve said all along, it would be ideal if all parties – the Cubs, the Ricketts, the rooftops, the City, the neighborhood – could come to an agreeable solution that benefits everyone. Obviously the most important part is that the Cubs are able to do what they need to do to generate optimal revenue for the Wrigley Field renovation, and also for the future on-field product. But if there’s a way to do that in concert with the rooftops? All the better.
If not … well, then … smarter men and women than I are paid a whole lot of money to make difficult choices.