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1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWAs 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.

  • Steve Browne

    Right or wrong, I could care less what the Tribune Co has to say about anything regarding the Cubs. The best thing that could of happened was that the sold the team and their opinion no longer matters.

    • JoeyCollins

      I’m as happy as anyone to have the Tribune as far away from the Cubs as possible, but i do think their opinion matters a little. Having articles like this one in papers across Chicago helps the PR battle a lot. If every paper in the city, especially one who understands the Cubs finances as well as the Tribune, was putting out articles painting the Cubs as rich bullys forcing their agenda on the poor roof top owners, this could be a tough fight. Basically any press that sides with the Cubs and helps move the public opinion their way matters.

  • MJ

    So….how many years did the Tribune own 100% of the team?

    How many opportunities did they have to keep a ballpark built in 1914 from becoming, as the piece says, “A dump?”

    How many of the millions they didn’t put into the team (until bankruptcy and they had to pretty it up and sell it) could have been used to maintain the structure and keep it up with current times?

    Did they ever have to cut a deal with the rooftops in 2004?

    The Tribune is the whole reason the Cubs are in the mess they are in. Now, the Ricketts are trying to clean up the mess and they’re being portrayed as the mean ol’ bad guy trying to put the little guys out of business.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Why do they still own part of the club? Is it tied to the bankruptcy?

    • Rcleven

      Tax related.

  • cjacks

    no, it was about tax breaks when sold, for the tribune .

  • Toby

    Speaking of baseball facilities, they are beginning to put up steel in Mesa for the new ST park:

    https://www.hunt-connect.com/cubsspringtraining/Pages/webcam.aspx

  • ReiCow

    “They don’t stack bleachers on top of buildings in Baltimore or Seattle or even on Chicago’s South Side. It’s pretty cool.” *roll eyes* When the rooftops were filled with people in lawn chairs, it was pretty nifty. When the cravenly mercantile rooftop owners put bleachers up and sold extra tickets to them, they completely lost my support. I hate the rooftop bleachers, and will lose no love if they are blocked.

    Moo.

  • http://n/a tsheilds

    Brett,

    I love your website and your comprehensive collection of all things Cubs, as well as your personal analysis.

    However, It bothers me how much you say “As I said before” or “This is exactly the point I made” or “As I predicted it would”. You’re a great blogger and a knowledgable fan/analyst. These comments make you seem desperate for recognition and it’s odd because you’re clearly recognized. Thanks for taking the criticism and keep up the good work!

    • DarthHater

      Brett has acknowledged on numerous occasions his proclivity for pointing out the numerous occasions on which he has previously acknowledged something. ;-)

    • Mick

      I see your point but most times he’ll include the link to the blog post where he actually said it before to give the reader more content to the whole story. If you’re not satisfied with that excuse, start keeping a little logbook of everything Brett says, and when he’s finally wrong about something……boom goes the dynamite :)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        This is pretty much the gist. Just providing context and background.

        On the rare occasion that I’m seeking credit – and it does happen, maybe a couple times a year – you’ll know, because I’m over-the-top about it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I appreciate the feedback, but I think you’re misreading me – when, in an article like this, I say “as I’ve said before” (or something like that), I’m simply referencing and acknowledging the fact that I’ve said something before. It’s a nod to folks who’ve heard me say something a million times, and would probably drop a comment of their own (“Dude, you say the same thing over and over”) if I didn’t note that, yes, I’ve said it before. It’s to provide readers context, that’s all.

      I’m not claiming any kind of foresight in articles like this – indeed, in the context in which I used the phrase in this post, that wouldn’t even make any sense.

      • DarthHater

        No, you’ve gotta admit that sometimes you do it to smack people who haven’t bothered to read what you previously said. :-P

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nah. I just post a link.

  • skidrow

    I just read on twitter, that city hall wants this with the cubs and rooftop owners done by this week.

    • skidrow

      From Al Yellon’s twitter.

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