1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWAlderman Tom Tunney, who represents the neighborhood in which Wrigley Field sits, says City Hall is pressing the Chicago Cubs and the owners of the rooftops that outline the outfield at Wrigley Field to come to an agreement about advertising, views into Wrigley Field, revenue sharing, and other items that ultimately impact the Cubs’ ability to move forward with their plans to renovate Wrigley Field.

The Cubs and the rooftop owners have been locked in a mini-battle over the last few weeks as the team looks to find new ways to generate the revenues necessary to support a renovation of Wrigley Field. One option is advertising along the outfield wall, but, because such signage could block the rooftops’ views into the ballpark, the owners of those buildings have proposed that the advertising instead be placed on their buildings, with the revenues going to the Cubs and the City. The Cubs don’t believe that arrangement will generate as much revenue as in-stadium advertising, so the two sides have been “discussing” a modified arrangement that would generate more revenue for the Cubs (presumably in the form of an increased share of the revenue the rooftops take in on tickets they sell to watch Cubs games) while not simultaneously putting the rooftops out of business.

Well, according to Tunney, the Mayor’s Office is pushing the parties to get a deal done by the end of this week so that the rest of the plans – which amount to the Ricketts Family paying for the renovations to Wrigley without public financing – can move forward without delay.

“[The two sides] are trying to put something together by the end of the week,” said Tunney, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It’s hard to corral all the interested parties.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor confirmed to the Tribune that his office is indeed applying pressure to get things done “very soon.”

That the City is applying the pressure to get things rolling only underscores just how important the renovation is to the City and the Mayor. Given that the current plan – by which the Ricketts Family would fund the Wrigley renovation with new advertisements, more concerts, more night games, and street fairs – includes no public money, and the Mayor has already touted the emergence of that plan as a fiscal success for his administration, you can bet he’s on the Cubs’ side here. It is logical to conclude that, if a deal is put together by the end of this week, it will be very favorable to the Cubs.

But, of course, we still don’t know if the point at which (1) the revenue from the advertising on the rooftop buildings, plus (2) any increase in the revenue share the rooftops can afford without going out of business, is still insufficient to match what the Cubs believe they can generate from in-stadium advertising (plus, as ugly as it is, the long-term value of putting the rooftops out of business and then taking over those buildings themselves). It remains possible, regardless of pressure from the City, that there is no match here. That is to say, it is possible that the Cubs simply can’t make as much working with the rooftops as they can working against them. I hope that isn’t the case – legal fights are unpredictable, slow, expensive and often ugly – but I guess we’ll find out soon.

The fact that the two sides continue to work together, according to Tunney, suggests that they may be able to reach a compromise, though.

I don’t like the idea of the Cubs being placed under an artificial time constraint to make a decision on something that will affect the organization for the next 20 years, but I guess that’s the nature of the political winds. If the Cubs want to get moving on the renovation, and want the necessary support to make the concert/night game/street fair stuff happen, they might just have to play ball with the rooftops now. Hopefully doing so will buy them all the political capital they need for the next five years.

(Disclosure: Some of the rooftop businesses advertise on BN, but that has not impacted how I’ve covered this ongoing story.)

  • Mrcub1958

    Brett, thanks for the update. We’re getting closer.

  • JulioZuleta

    I don’t like see the time restraint either, but like you said, I think that hurts the rooftops more than the team.

  • BluBlud

    Piracy should not be tolerated by the new owners. Put them out of business, completely, and let Ricketts makes as much money as he can. If he chooses to invest in the Cubs, fine. If he choose his pockets instead, it’s his business, that’s fine with me too.

  • Curt

    what I actually appreciate is Brett managing not to slant the reports towards the rooftop owners position as they do advertise with him, Brett as the rest of us here is a cubs fan and it shows but at least Brett’s fair about it , and that’s all anyone can ask. But 1 question Brett how do you see the endgame working here , you know the cubs want to just do what they see fit , will they compromise with the rooftop owners or be forced to.

  • TNN2

    What legal battles could there possibly be?

    According to the Trib., the contract with the rooftops specifically states that if a governmental body gives the Cubs the ok to put up signs the rooftops can’t stop them.

    As long as the landmarks commission (part of Rahm’s administration) gives them the green light to proceed there isn’t anything the Rooftops can do about it.

    If things somehow got really ugly and the city suddenly turned against the Cubs and denied their request to erect advertising and there were no other avenues to left to explore I suppose the Cubs could sue and claim that their rights to free expression were being infringed. But who really sees this as a constitutional battle?

    This will get done, and the City will let the Cubs generate whatever money they need to finance the whole thing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “What legal battles could there possibly be?”

      Speaking from experience: when it comes to bet the company litigation, there’s always an argument to be made. Always.

      • Boogens

        Also, the city could just use the threat of refusing to make any concessions re: the historical landmark status, street closings & increased night game decisions as leverage to prevent the Cubs from putting the rooftop owners out of business.

        • Smitty

          I would think that if the city where to pull shenanigans like that, Ricketts would have to start looking elswhere for his team to play. And as a Cubs fan, if the city put us in a distinct competitive disadvantage by doing this, I would totally understand if Ricketts would move the team.

          Thank goodness the mayor realizes how sweet this deal is to the city as it is.

        • TNN2

          Read the writing on the wall. The Mayor is for this. It’s a $600 million gift that dropped into his lap and he isn’t going to let 13 rooftop owners or the landmark ordinance prevent the projects (Wrigley and the hotel) from happening. Most of the stadium elements that we all love will stay protected by a revised landmark ruling but the provisions limiting signage will be stricken. As far as night games and expanded programming goes, that’s a separate matter.

  • Johnny

    The cubs are in the driver seat. There business, there money. Rooftops just feed of them. It’s only a matter of time before the cubs get what they want. Sure they have a contract but in all honestly, the cubs can put them out of business and tie everything up else up in a legal battle for 20 years. Either way, cubs win.

    • Boogens

      I’m not a rooftop apologist but the Cubs still want something from the city out of all of this so they’re not really in the driver’s seat as much as you might think. To use a Seinfeld phrase, the Cubs may have “hand” with the rooftop owners, but the city has “hand” with the Cubs.

  • DReese

    Speaking of advertising, why are there advertisements about sox tickets? Did they think they can convert some people?

  • Kevin

    Ricketts must not cave into the Rooftop owners demands. The gravytrain is dry….time for the Cubs to take a hard stand, one that is good for the Cubs future Period! No more Mr. nice guy! We are now a serious business and must take the necessary steps to fund a competitive team each and every year. What right does the Mayor have to try to push things along??????????

  • MDitka

    i wonder if there is a way to have some signage along the back of the bleachers where the fences are now & just up a little so as to not block the views? i have been on the roof tops before & after the upgrades were made & now most are much higher up with the seating & stands than they were back in the day of friends & grills & coolers. would be nice if they could do some ads along the back of the bleachers in areas where the rooftops are high enough to still have a view available & also set up the ads on the rooftops which could be below & above to add more spots available. hoping the cubs can get a shorter contract with them also – say 10 yrs & then maybe be moving in the direction of ads along the top of the bleachers at that point.

    • TNN2

      The current agreement only last 9 more years. The Rooftops want to extend it for up to 20 more.

  • bbrave307

    Figure out which rooftops would be effected by the signage the Cub’s want and buyout those guys. Leave the other guys with thier rooftop views and Cub’s revenue stream. It sounds like even if it cost $5mil per building bought out, it would be a good deal long term for the Cubs.
    As far as the bought out owners, the present value of $5mil has to be more than the future value of an uncertian revenue stream.
    Maybe $5mil isn’t the correct amount, but you get the idea.

  • TonyP

    I would make them a fair market offer plus on their property and if they refused to sell I would block the view from that building with adverting signs.

  • CubsFan4Life

    Hey Brett, Thank you for the great job that you are doing by keeping us informed with the Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch. I hope that the ultimate solution includes putting the LED signs on the rooftop buildings, because the pictures looked like a very good solution for adding high-tech advertising without changing the extremely unique beauty of Wrigley Field.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


  • CubbieBlue

    Is there a particular downside to playing hardball with the rooftop owners. Maybe offering them a very good deal to buy them out thereby securing all rooftop revenue or even converting them into shops once leases expire? It seems to me that the Cubs have leverage here whereby they could make the owners a good offer and make everyone happy.

  • Tommy

    Two points to make:
    1. It’s nice to see the city government pushing a local business to be timely in it’s decision making (just like the city always is).
    2. I don’t know why the Cubs can’t increase their advertising revenue while at the same time not block the rooftops. I do think it’s a neat part of the Wrigley experience, and certainly that’s something they could use to their advantage.

  • cubzforlife

    If you read the Trib article there is a city council meeting on the 13 th and Tunney needs time to write the new rules. Cubs are going nowhere. My guess is they reach an agreement and don’t extend the original past the twenty years.

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