One 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.
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.]