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respect wrigleyOne of the tenets of Wrigley rooftop buildings’ position with respect to the Cubs adding new advertising signage in Wrigley Field is that doing so would violate the “uninterrupted sweep” of the bleachers, which are protected as a landmark. In reality, the rooftops are afraid – understandably – that new outfield signage would block their views into Wrigley Field, effectively putting them out of business.

The rooftops’ champion is Tom Tunney, the Alderman for the 44th Ward, in which Wrigley Field and the rooftops sit. It is logical, then, that his position with respect to the virtues of the landmark laws that protect the “uninterrupted sweep” would be the same as the rooftop buildings’ position.

So, when the Sun-Times reports that Tunney has suggested that the Cubs tear down the Old Scoreboard in center field, another landmark, to make space for a large video board (JumboTron), which could host advertising and wouldn’t block the rooftop buildings’ views, I get upset.

From the Sun-Times’ report:

Determined to preserve the birds-eye view from rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has made a bold suggestion to the Cubs: replace the iconic landmarked centerfield scoreboard with a video scoreboard that would generate millions without blocking anybody’s view.

Two sources close to the negotiations said Tunney has made that suggestion repeatedly in his continuing effort to protect rooftop club owners whom the aldermen counts among his most reliable campaign contributors.

“Put it in centerfield. Make it as big as you want,” a source close to the negotiations quoted the alderman as saying.

“He wants no signs that block a rooftop. [But], how do you think the fans would react? They would revolt. The Cubs wouldn’t dare to suggest it. To have Tunney suggest it underscores what this is all about.”

I get pretty frustrated by the ostensible hypocrisy, to say nothing of inanity of suggesting the Cubs tear down the iconic scoreboard.

That Tunney has the temerity to even make such an incredible suggestion confirms that his loyalties in this dispute lie with the rooftop owners, at the exclusion of all other constituents. It’s a fair bet that if you asked any other Wrigleyville resident – any one of them – if they’d like to see the Old Scoreboard torn down, you’d get a resounding no, reverberating all the way to Lincoln Park.

Ricketts Family spokesman Dennis Culloton told the Sun-Times, “demolishing the landmarked old scoreboard has never been part of any plan discussed or envisioned by the Ricketts family.”

That’s the right attitude. Not to pull the “tradition” and “sanctity” cards, but if anything in this world remains sacred, it’s the Old Scoreboard at Wrigley freaking Field. A larger video board below the Old Scoreboard, if technology allows it? Sure. Absolutely. But replacing the scoreboard? No way.

Tunney does the rooftops no favor by making such a suggestion, either, because I’d think they would want no part of such an absurdly unacceptable plan. But, who knows. People will do crazy things when their livelihood is on the line.

I don’t pretend to have any inside information on these discussions, and, indeed, I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know. But I still believe there’s a compromise here where all sides benefit. Too many of those who seek to benefit from the Wrigley renovation are focused on the size of their slice in the pie, instead of focusing on how large the pie can grow. The Cubs and the Ricketts Family have been as flexible as I think they can be. Now it’s time for everyone else to bend, and if that means the rooftops have to share more revenue and tolerate some ads on their buildings and in the stadium in order to survive? Isn’t that better than digging your heels in and killing the renovation, which, eventually and certainly, will kill your business?

Hopefully Tunney and the rooftops see this sooner rather than later, and an agreement can be made. One that doesn’t involve anyone laying a finger on the Old Scoreboard, other than the folks charged with keeping score.

[Disclosure: Some of the rooftop buildings advertise on BN, but that has not impacted how I've covered this ongoing story.]

  • Rebuilding

    When thinking about the political calculus of this it is really almost impossible to put much pressure on Tunney. As one of the few openly gay politicians in America (not making any political statement, just a fact) he will never lose in that Ward. I think that’s why Emmanual has been so quiet given the importance of that constituency to his political base. Again, not turning this into a gay marriage debate, but that is the situation – a Teflon alderman and a mayor who doesn’t want to piss him off.

    • cjdubbya

      As far as I’m concerned, his sexual orientation has nothing to do with this, but I absolutely get where you’re coming from, and that’s a really good point.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Great use of the word temerity.

    WIthout going into any further detail (sorry), I can that from work I know the rooftops aren’t the owners livelihoods (at least for the vast majority). They do represent significant investments, and most have large mortgages outstanding.

    To all of the people saying “now the real reasons are coming out” I’d retort that anyone with 1/2 a brain knew this was about protecting rooftop businesses from the start.

    I don’t believe anyone who thinks leaving Wrigley is a credible threat. The stadium is a huge part of the brand and meaning of Cub fandom. The Cubs can and will survive just fine with their existing revenue. St. Louis has a far lower budget and seems to compete just fine.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      The Cardinals payroll is 20 million more than the Cubs for this season.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

        That should really, really never be the case. I miss the Tribune Co.

        • hansman1982

          From 2000-2007, the Cardinals outspent the Cubs by $1.3M which was much worse before the inflated spending starting in 2007 (2000-2006 was a $10M gap).

          Again, history (besides a 4 year outlier period) has not borne out that the Cubs are anything but a bigger middle market team.

          • Ron

            The question should be why don’t the Cubs spend? Are the history of bad deals like the poorly negotiated roof top deal, the fact thst the Cubs have no financial support from the city, the fact that the city has negotiated deals where the Cubs have to “invest” in non-baseball associated projects in the city a true hinderence to their ability to invest in the on the field product. Maybe the years of the Cubs disproportionately (in relation to other teams) shouldering a financial burden is why they have been unable to consistantly invest in the on the field product.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            Well, then I miss the imaginary good owner we all thought we’d get after the Tribune Co. sold.

            The most recent Forbes estimates we have (2011) have the Cubs at No. 3 in revenue. They are not mid-market in any sense of the word right now, regardless of the past.

            • Ron

              Does revenue equal profit? Or is it a measure of just what comes in?

              • bbmoney

                Revenue does NOT equal profit.

                Profit = Revenue – Expenses.

                • bbmoney

                  Not that the definition of profit has anything to do with what a middle market team is, which the Cubs assuredly are not.

                  • hansman1982

                    It is a valid point. If the Cubs have much higher non-baseball expenses than the other big markets, is it enough to make it impossible for them to spend like a big market despite a big market revenue $ amount?

                    Isn’t it odd that “inflating spending to sell the team for more” ran payroll all the way up to $145M then watch the Phillies and Tigers run their payroll up to $175M?

                    For some reason, the Cubs have not acted like a big market team in ANY of the past 13 years.

                    • Lou

                      Try more like the past 25 years. I know it’s one particular signing I’m pointing to here, but refusing to negotiate a deal with Greg Maddux (back in the day) had large scale ramifications.

                    • hansman1982

                      That’s all I have concrete data for.

                      If I remember correctly, even after 2008 there was talk about needing to shift payroll to afford Milton Bradley.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      “It is a valid point. If the Cubs have much higher non-baseball expenses than the other big markets, is it enough to make it impossible for them to spend like a big market despite a big market revenue $ amount?”

                      That seems unlikely. We haven’t seen every team’s books, but we’ve seen enough to know that non-payroll expenses are relatively stable and minor across all teams.

                      Another big factor in the Cubs not utilizing their financial advantages was that MacPhail found it distasteful, probably because he didn’t want to annoy other owners who might not let him be commissioner someday.

                    • hansman1982

                      “That seems unlikely. We haven’t seen every team’s books, but we’ve seen enough to know that non-payroll expenses are relatively stable and minor across all teams.”

                      Unless those minor variances are Stewart, Baker, Concepcion and New Prospect Guy sized. Pretty soon, you’re talking real money.

                      “Another big factor in the Cubs not utilizing their financial advantages was that MacPhail found it distasteful, probably because he didn’t want to annoy other owners who might not let him be commissioner someday.”

                      This is the first time I have ever heard this.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      “Unless those minor variances are Stewart, Baker, Concepcion and New Prospect Guy sized. Pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”

                      I like a good glib counter as much as the next guy, but you don’t seem to be interested in learning what you don’t know here. You just want there to be plenty of grey area so that you can fit what you want to believe in there.

                      Non-player-acquisition expenses in MLB are much smaller than MLB payroll and amateur acquisition, and they tend to be fairly standardized across teams. There’s not enough there to make up for the difference between the Cubs’ revenue and mid-market teams’.

                      The only place where the difference might add up to the millions is front office payroll, where the Cubs have been historically cheap.

                      They weren’t not spending like a big-market team because they were riding golden jets while other teams took the bus or anything like that.

                    • hansman1982

                      We won’t know, though, until the Cubs accounting docs are released.

                      My main argument isn’t that the Cubs are significantly outspending other teams, it’s that Forbes is wrong in their calculations.

                      I guess, for me, it’s easier to believe that they are 10% off in their educated guess, than the Cubs ownership has made, roughly (and indexed to 2012 dollars), $30M a year disappear for the past 13 years.

                • CrazyHorse

                  Well when the front office gives away money for players that stay on the diable list- your point is getting earier to understand.

            • hansman1982

              Then it comes down to:

              Is Ricketts a bad owner who is hoarding the cash, yet still spending it on facilities and front office staff while not spending on FA.

              Or

              Does Ricketts have a 30 year vision of the Cubs to make them into a franchise that can afford a $175M payroll year in and year out while still having a world class farm system?

              You always point out that what Ricketts/Theo is doing has never been done. I think you are 100% correct. In the past 10-15 years no other franchise has worked, as hard as the Cubs, to systematically revamp the ENTIRE organization from a 1970’s model to a premier organization.

              Losing sucks balls but we are finally finishing what Dallas Green tried to start in the 80’s.

              • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                I don’t think those are the only two choices.

                I think Ricketts is an owner with a long-term business plan for the business side of the Cubs (one that he has had considerable trouble implementing in the first few years of his ownership).

                The idea that he has had some sort of master plan all along for the baseball side of things doesn’t stand up to his statements in the years before Epstein got here. He’s changed his tune noticeably.

                • hansman1982

                  I wasn’t trying to imply that option 2 was the unicorns and rainbows option.

                  Ricketts time as owner hasn’t gone the way I thought it would but, overall, I am very pleased.

                  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                    He’s owned the team for more than three years and it’s been roughly four since his big was accepted.

                    Payroll is significantly down, there’s still no Wrigley plan in place (something he wanted to get done very quickly).

                    We lost 101 games last year and are looking at 90+ this year.

                    We’ve got the worst MLB talent in the division and the third-best farm system.

                    I’m not pleased.

                    • Jono

                      It’s extremely early in Ricketts’ time as owner. 3 or 4 years is a very short time in the duration of ownership, especially since he didn’t even start putting his plan in place until the second or third year. It’s way too early to start judging Ricketts as an owner based on major league record.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      How long is the average sports team ownership? 15-20 years? We’re way past the 10% mark.

                      Why didn’t he put his plan in place until year 2 or 3? That seems pretty irresponsible.

                    • Jono

                      that 15-20 number is the average amount of time current owners have owned their teams, not the average duration of team ownership. BIG difference. And I’m glad Ricketts took the time to learn the industry and didn’t make quick, rash decisions just to please some fans. You are truly proving that my comments a while ago short term thinking was accurte. 3 years is not a long time

                    • Jono

                      *accurate

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      15-20 was jsut a guess on my part. It’s not based on anything.

                      If not being happy about three (and looking at four about to start) straight years of bad teams is the result of short-term thinking, then I’m glad to be a short-term thinker.

                      “Long-term thinking” seems to be code for “ignore everything that goes wrong and repeatedly tell yourself how awesome the future will be with scant evidence.”

                    • Jono

                      To avoid the same back and forth over and over again, let me just say/write, “GO CUBS!” We both know where we stand, no point in going on and on. Let’s just hope this is an exciting year that leaves us waving the W flag

                    • DarthHater

                      “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

                      —The Great Law of the Haudenosaunee

                      So far, the Cubs have only gone 5 generations without a world series title. Chill out, man! ;-)

                  • hansman1982

                    “Long-term thinking” seems to be code for “ignore everything that goes wrong and repeatedly tell yourself how awesome the future will be with scant evidence.”

                    I can either try to be positive about everything in Cubdom or become a hopeless alcoholic.

  • Jim Gillmeister

    As a season ticket holder, I think the scoreboard can be rebuilt, and configured to include a jumbo-tron, while keeping the current dimensions, a retro-vibe while eliminating the manual operation. That would improve the in-park experience substantially. I would still support other advertising signage in park.

    I think the roof-tops add to the ambiance of Wrigley, but he roof-top owners are mooching off the Cubs. Shame on former team owners for not buying up the roof-top buildings as they came available and shame on them for sighong the agreement where they’re only getting 17% of the revenue.

    • Joker

      I have a similar belief that the scoreboard can and should be retro-fitted and updated. It’s a beautiful piece of history to be sure, but if we need to move on, we need to move on. Not demolish the thing and replace it like Tunney suggest, but update and modify it, if it is possible from an engineering standpoint. Start subtle, work in a few more modern elements, respect the history.

      Of course, this never will happen.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Interesting take on the situation in the Tribune by Steve Rosenbloom today. He is pretty harsh on Ricketts, thinks he has botched the negotiations big time.
    Funny, he said Reinsdorf, would have had two proposals in hand to move the team, and the city crying for it’s mommy.

    • TWC

      You said “interesting” and “Steve Rosenbloom” in the same sentence. I stopped reading there.

    • cas-castro

      Steve Rosenbloom never has anything intelligent to say in his writing. Some of the stuff he says might be true. What he really does is cater to the homer crowd and writes stuff that sells the newspaper. Not much substance there. He is the same one that predicted the Bears would go 16-0 last year and would win every game 73-0.

      • Dave

        I’m not a fan of his but my guess is that he was being sarcastic in picking the Bears to go 16-0.

    • Noah

      Rosenbloom clearly does not remember the talks that led to new Comiskey being built, which went on longer and got nastier. The White Sox were quite close to leaving, and not just the City, but bolting to Tampa.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        This is correct, except the Cubs renovation negotiations are not yet completed and will almost certainly get nastier.

  • Curt

    mayor Emmanuel time to get off yr collective behind , you were terrible in the governments office and as far as I can see yr terrible at being a mayor too get yr azz back to work hey this dog n pony show on the road , I’m just sick and tired of everyone’s agenda, thieves, extortionists, political crooks, the whole thing I’s just unbelievable . GET IT DONE! if something doesent happen soon myb the threat of moving should be given some legs and then see how fast things get going.

    • Jono

      Seriously

  • Jono

    That’s insane. The scoreboard is way more important than the rooftops. There is NO reason to take down the scoreboard. This alderman is a dick head. I can’t believe that was a legitimate suggestion. The district should be ashamed that he’s their representative.

    • BluBlud

      Personally, I think the scoreboard and rooftops have about the same amount of value as each other. ABSOLUTELY ZERO.

      • Jono

        I’d give up the scoreboard for an appearance in the NLCS. I’d give up the rooftops for a free beer. Actually, correct that. I’d give up the rooftops for a beer at 50% off. An appearance in the world series is worth Wrigley Field as a whole

        • BluBlud

          Man, I’d give up the rooftop and buy everybody a beer in celebration. I’d buy 2 for MG.

          • Jono

            HA!

  • cubzforlife

    I believe the majority of Mr Tunney’s support comes from the LGBT community and they don’t care about the Cubs. His voice is an important one for them in a Chicago city council stuck in the 1950’s. The only way he loses election is if he became straight.

    • CrazyHorse

      I would imagine many straight people could care less about the Cubs.Your discussion point about the 1950 is laughable .

    • CrazyHorse

      But this reply was borderline phobic LOL.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    If the rooftop owners were paying me as much as they pay Tunney, I’d say lots of stupid things to try to protect their interests, too.

    • Ron

      You don’t even get paid and you say all kinds of stupid stuff!

    • Ron

      I didn’t want to get personal, and normally would not have, but the door was open. I apologise if any offense was taken.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

        It was a hanger. I would have been disappointed if nobody took a swing at it.

  • CrazyHorse

    On one hand the Cubs are saying a move to the burbs might be on the table, but look Tunney want us to tear down the sacred old scoreboard you just gotta laugh at this- correct? Pure Funny

    • Scotti

      If the Cubs are to stay in Wrigley then keeping tradition is of the utmost importance. If the city will not allow them to compete financially then the Cubs hand is forced and they move. I see no contradiction.

      • CrazyHorse

        The Cubs not competing financially is the Cubs fault. When the product on the field is competative- everybody flocks to Wrigley field at infated prices. When the Cubs sux it is the teams own fault and only the seagulls flock to the bleachers,

        • Jono

          Didn’t they have the 10th most attendance in MLB last year despite having the second worst record? Attendance is falling so slowly that they probably have time to suck until the lack of attendance forces their hand (but no doubt, eventually that will happen if they keep sucking). Hopefully by that time, they’re ready to put a contender on the field, anyway

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    If the Alderman’s ultimate goal is to sway public opinion firmly against him, he has that going for him. If that Mayor wants to him, that is his own stupidity.

    • CrazyHorse

      I am sure the only things he cares about is the opinion of his district. if not then ,one can assume the whole red bible belt would be in trouble as well………

  • cubzforlife

    For non Chicagoans it’s a ward not a district and they’re Alderman not representatives. By design the Alderman hold more power then the Mayor. But of course the Mayor tries to control as many Alderman as possible to maintain power. I’ve been involved in ward politics for over 40 years and most of these folks are dinosaurs in the way they think. It’s a great gig pays over a 100k a year for a part part part time job. Plus an allowance for a ward office and staff. Need a zoning change or a stop sign? Thats who you call.

    • CrazyHorse

      Your correct-I think this the first post reply that has made the power sturcture simple without giving an opinion . Which in itself is a great service.

  • Coldneck

    I often wonder why Rickett’s doesn’t just offer several of the Rooftop Owners a deal they can’t refuse to sell and get out of the way. Don’t you think the Cubs would be able to monetize the rooftops better than anyone else?

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Do the Cubs need to renovate Wrigley because they need the revenue, or because they need to keep the concrete from falling on people?

    Do they need to renovate Wrigley?

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