respect wrigleyAfter a couple weeks of “leaks” and “anonymous sources” telling the story of the Wrigley Field renovation negotiations, the owners of the rooftop buildings – large stakeholders in the outcome of the renovation talks, as they are trying to preserve their views into Wrigley Field in the face of the Cubs’ desire to add advertising along the outfield wall – decided to hang it all out there. And it doesn’t sound like any kind of agreement, at least with respect to them, is even remotely close.

For your benefit, I’ll just show you the entire press release the rooftops just sent around:

Wrigleyville Rooftops Association Setting the Record Straight
Rooftop owners exasperated by inaccurate statements by Ricketts family

CHICAGO – The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association wants five facts to be known as the Cubs’ self-imposed April 1 Wrigley Field renovation deadline approaches:

1. The Ricketts family does not need to renegotiate their 2004 landmark ordinance agreement with the City of Chicago by April 1 to move forward with renovation plans. The landmark ordinance protects the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers” – not updating the clubhouses, public restrooms and various guest amenities. Nothing has prevented the Cubs from making these improvements except to use the renovation debate as an excuse to drive away the Rooftops.

2. The Ricketts family was well-aware of the 20-year contract signed in 2004 with the Rooftop owners when they purchased the team. Two of the top people in the Cubs’ current organization, Cubs President Crane Kenney and Mike Lufrano, Executive Vice President, Community Affairs/General Counsel, negotiated the contract and profit sharing agreement with the Rooftop owners.

3. As reported by media outlets this week, the Ricketts family attempted to purchase five Rooftops in 2011 and place signage-including a jumbotron-on the properties. The Ricketts family’s idea back then was nearly identical to the compromise solution being offered to them today.

4. The Ricketts family requested public financing for the renovation even knowing they are about to receive an enormous financial windfall. The Cubs have publicly stated they intend to sell broadcast rights for their product next year, possibly even saying goodbye to their partner of many decades, WGN television. Here’s what the Ricketts know: a similar deal negotiated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a like-sized media market was recently signed for $7 BILLION.

5. Many of the Rooftop owners have lived and invested in the Wrigleyville community for more than 30 years when the neighborhood was much different. Upon engaging in a partnership with the Cubs in 2004, they proceeded to collectively invest $50 million to upgrade and enhance their facilities. The Rooftop owners have collectively paid the Cubs approximately $25 million in royalties and are scheduled to pay another $45 million over the next decade. Unilaterally changing a contract without one party’s consent is unfair to any business let alone your neighbors of 30 years.

Beth Murphy, longtime owner of Murphy’s Bleachers, adds, “Our win-win advertising plan would dedicate 100% of all revenues from signs on rooftops to the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field and help improve community needs. Signs on rooftops were proposed by the Ricketts family two years ago when they tried to buy a rooftop, so we’re confused why it isn’t good enough for them now. The Ricketts family should honor the contract we signed in 2004 that was negotiated by current Cubs’ top executives. There is no reason to block our views.”

The Rooftops are a tremendous economic engine creating significant revenue for city, county and state government.

There are so many reactions …

  • This release doesn’t come out if the sides are feeling good about a deal. The April 1 deadline to have a broad renovation deal in place (which includes funding mechanisms like outfield signage) is coming quickly, and I suddenly feel less than optimistic. Unless …
  • Maybe this is a sign that the rooftops are about to be abandoned by the political entities that had been aiding them to this point? The talk about honoring the contract – which is in place between the Cubs and the rooftops through 2024 – and the discussion of the previous rooftop plan to place advertising on the rooftop buildings makes me wonder if the rooftops are afraid that they’re going to simply be ignored when the final deal is struck, and this is their desperation play. (To whom, exactly, I’m not sure. Residents in the area? Politicians? Cubs fans?)
  • The first point in the release may technically be correct, but, as I’ve said many times before, I can’t blame the Ricketts Family for refusing to start signing renovation checks when they don’t know what funding mechanisms are going to be available to them.
  • That the Ricketts Family planned to place advertisements on buildings they would have purchased in 2011 doesn’t necessarily settle things today. For example, maybe they’ve since realized that ads on the rooftop buildings won’t pay as well as in-stadium ads. Or perhaps the only reason they were willing to accept ads on the rooftops back then was because they were going to own a portion of those rooftops. I really don’t know. I don’t think any of us outside of the negotiations do.
  • The TV deal thing seems like a red herring. The fact that the Cubs are going to ink a new TV deal in the coming years really doesn’t relate directly to the funding of a renovation of Wrigley Field in quite the same way that revenue-adding activities at Wrigley Field does. Further, a new TV deal is not certain to approach the level of the Dodgers’ deal for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that only the WGN portion of the Cubs’ TV deal is up in 2014, and that’s fewer than half of the games. That said, could the Ricketts Family start renovations by paying out of their own pocket in anticipation of the TV deal? Sure. Should they have to? I’m not sure they should.
  • Maybe it’s the former lawyer in me, but I don’t have a problem with the rooftops resting on the contract that the Cubs signed with them in 2004. The question, though, is to what extent the Cubs can unilaterally block rooftop views without breaching the contract (or, to what extent they can negotiate a change of that agreement, or can breach the agreement in a way that still generates more revenue than they would lose by way of the breach)? Once again, only those who’ve extensively reviewed the contract can say for sure. The language in this release doesn’t indicate to me that the Cubs would necessarily be breaching the contract by erecting blocking signage, as it feels like more of a plea for fairness.
  • I’m not sure anything in the rooftops’ current arguments are going to persuade anyone who is ardently against them, nor turn anyone who supports them away. To me, it’s the same as it’s always been: if there’s a compromise that keeps the rooftops in business without unnecessarily or unreasonably sapping Cubs resources, then great, let’s get that compromise done. If it increases the revenue coming into the Cubs organization, all the better.
  • The timing of the release is interesting, given that the community meeting about Wrigley renovations is taking place tonight in about two hours.

The Cubs aren’t going to be happy about this release, but it seems to me that, if it’s come to this, they’ve already cut off negotiations anyway. Perhaps the Cubs will now simply wait for the April 1 deadline to come and pass, and then they’ll start exploring non-Wrigley options. Perhaps the rooftops have already been cut out of the loop, and an unfavorable deal for them is already coming down the pipeline.

It’s unbelievable that things have gotten to this point, but there are a lot of dollars at stake, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that every side is fighting tooth and nail.

[Disclosure: Some of the rooftops advertise on BN, but that has not impacted the way I’ve covered this ongoing story.]

  • Die hard

    5 star hotel with parking including McDonalds site was plan from day 1

  • Karen P

    This is all insane to me. Obviously this isn’t a fight/discussion/what-have-you that came out of the blue, but things really seem to be coming to a head. It’s just getting really annoying. I don’t think any one party is “right” in this instance, but I’m more likely to side with the Cubs. The roof top owners getting rich and having more money doesn’t help the product on the field. However, profits to the team can only help. So in that case, I suppose I’m glad to see the Ricketts family preparing to play hardball.

    But I really do wish I could just click my heels like Ronnie and make everyone get along.

    • Die hard

      It’s more like a couple knowing the relationship has been over for a long time and we went from denial to anger and now to acceptance …. It’s for the best that Cubs part ways with Wrigley

  • VanSlaw

    “and then they’ll start exploring non-Wrigley options.”

    Who’s looking out for ya?

    • Brett

      You, and I owe you a message.

  • Patrick W.

    I would love to see that contract. It would clear up Soooo much. I know there are summaries by people who have seen it, but I would still love to look at it.

    Pretty silly of them to say (paraphrasing) “we know how much money these guys are about to make so we know how they should spend it.” Mmm guys, is it possible that the lack of in stadium signage is likely to suppress the value of a TV deal and one of the reasons for the April 1 deadline is so they can negotiate a new contract knowing what in stadium ads will look like?

    One of the biggest mistakes in negotiations is not being able to look at the situation from the point of view of the other party. This release demonstrates a weakness in negotiations perfectly.

    • aCubsFan

      Absolutely. It is a double edge sword. You need signage for TV revenue, and the position of the signage causes the ad revenue to be sold at a discount or a premium based on the exposure of the advertising in the broadcast. Why do you think that every stadium in baseball has a rotating sign behind home plate that advertising can be placed on or superimposed on?

      The same in football now. They superimpose advertising on the field. Hockey is doing the same thing now. NASCAR has been using TV exposure and the size of the brand logo on the car to set sponsorship rates for decades now.

    • aCubsFan

      And the Cubs need to know what type of signage, the size and where it is going to be positioned, this year because WGN negotiations are going to start in the very near future otherwise they are going to get another substandard rights fee from WGN.

  • spudart

    Does advertising in ballparks really sell anything anyways? I’d say it does the opposite. I’ve boycotted Under Amour since the ivy ads.

    • aCubsFan

      It made not sell a specific product but it builds brand awareness.

      Why boycott Under Amour just because they have their logo on the outfield doors? Do you boycott all the other brands/companies like Sears, Budweiser, etc. that have their logos on various parts of Wrigley?

      What are you going to do when baseball finally breaks down and puts logos on team uniforms of sponsors? It’s coming it is just a matter of timing.

      • aCubsFan

        oops typo…made should have been may.

    • gutshot5820

      If they changed the Under Armour ads to Chevy and you owned one, would you sell it? Or if they changed it to Costco, would you stop shopping there?

  • MichiganGoat

    And the soap opera continues of maybe this is becoming “Game of Bleachers”

  • JR

    I really wish the Cubs would tell the rooftop idiots to F off and move already. This is ridiculous. Sure, everyone has a ton of memories in Wrigleyville, but it’s not like there has been 20 championships there or anything.

  • miggy80

    “Wrigleyville Rooftops Association Setting the Record Straight
    Rooftop owners exasperated by inaccurate statements by Ricketts family”

    wow, them fighting words.

  • Kevin

    Tom Ricketts has finally grown a pair and is doing everything possible to maximize revenue. What’s more important, the ability to field a competitive team or the rooftop experience? Wrigley Field is a beautiful place to watch the lovable losers, however, it’s time to watch a winning team on a regular basis and the Cubs are making some very tough decisions to make sure they are in position to WIN!

  • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    If I had to guess, and it’s just a guess, I would think the Cubs have put out their final, take it ir leave it, offer. Everything we hear from now to April 1st could be all PR work. If a deal is reached, to the Cubs advantage, the rooftops can play the victim. If a deal isn’t reached, the Cubs can deflect responsibility for moving out of Wrigley. Oh, the tangled web they’ve left.

  • Fakko

    I think the roof top owners are lucky with their real estate location but to try and have a say in how someone runs their business is not their place. The 30 years has changed with the times but the cubs have been there nearly 100 years. Enough of the regulations regarding night games and other restrictions. I don’t know the possibilities of properties near the lake and downtown but a new stadium would be perfect but in the right location. Feel like I am spitting out common sense, but just frustrated with everything.

  • Jon

    Except for what that contract says or doesn’t say the rest of these points have no bearing on anything. Business is business and you are just a bar.

  • King Jeff

    “The Rooftops are a tremendous economic engine creating significant revenue for city, county and state government.”
    And they wouldn’t produce anything but residential property taxes if not for the Cubs.

    “Many of the Rooftop owners have lived and invested in the Wrigleyville community for more than 30 years ”
    I am curious to know how many of the owners actually live in Wrigleyville now. We know that they don’t live in the rooftop buildings anymore, they turned their “homes” into a “tremendous economic engine”, yet they try to cry about their homes not being the same as they were.
    So much for keeping this out of the media, seems like a free for all is coming, and I don’t think the rooftop owners or Tom Tunney have enough ammo for this fight.

    • King Jeff

      Forgot this part:
      I really wish that they would just come out and say what their problem really is. They aren’t concerned about the neighborhood, the redline, extra parking, or any community improvement, they are solely worried about protecting their profits, and the more they speak, the more everyone else sees that.

      • MichiganGoat

        I agree Jeff this was a desperate attempt to gain support and really shows how dire their position is at this point.

        • Crazyhorse

          Or its simply the truth, and a reminder that contracts were signed and the rooftops have a legal standing to do thier buisness .

          • MichiganGoat

            If its so obvious and simply why did they have to make such a bold public statement? That is the act of desperation, basically a “but…. but …. but WE have a contract.” That contract must not be as ironclad as they are to to convince everyone.

            • Crazyhorse

              a public statement is just that a public statement. to be bold is a matter of opinion,

              • MichiganGoat

                Oh silly rabbit don’t you see that by having to public with something you think is so simple and obvious means the speaker is afraid it’s not so simple or obvious

                • Crazyhorse

                  Or vice vera as well.

                  • Crazyhorse

                    vice versa lol

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Quality retort there

                • Misuser use of Hyperbelanalogy (BluBlud)

                  People clearly don’t understand this, MG. If the rooftops had the leverage, they could simply sit back and say, “go ahead, take your best shot.” This confirms my belief that their is a clause that allows the Cubs to get out of the contract without even possibly having to pay a dime. The rooftops know that this clause exist, so they are try to sway the public opinion in their favor so that Ricketts will have to think about the “bad press” and the “community pushbak” before making a decision. I don’t think it’s working.

                  • MichiganGoat

                    Precisely it’s the same reasons the Cubs aren’t making public statements saying “We are considering moving” because there is no leverage in saying that. By not saying anything the Cubs can have that leverage and since many believe that isn’t a valid threat then they have even less reason to say it loudly in a press statement. Likewise the rooftops, if they had leverage, would be better served to keep it quiet and not make a pleading statement to the public. Since they made this move they basically just went all in on a bluff that the Cubs will quickly call.

                  • Crazyhorse

                    I said the Cubs have no leverage and they need to create leverage. even if Tunney agrees with the Cubs I would think the rooftop would sue. The Cubs cant sue – even if its a bad contract that most people would agree (myself included from a buisness standpoint)The Cubs cant sue the roof tops for stealing a product that i feel that they undercompensated, but compensated . Dont confuse with a bad contract with no contract. good night all

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Seriously the Cubs have ZERO leverage? They have ALL THE LEVERAGE they own the product everyone wants. That is ultimate leverage. There is no competition the rooftops can partner with or choose instead of the Cubs. It is the rooftops that need leverage and this was a desperate attempt to gain something they don’t have. Wait silly rabbit are you the rooftops?

  • cubzforlife

    We all know the Cub’s are not moving anywhere.

    • Fakko

      I wish that wasn’t so. I have some hope but it will all depend on location.

  • JulioZuleta

    In response:
    1. Convenient that they publicly recommend that the Cubs start renovating the clubhouse…one week before games start.
    1a. Beginning any type of renovation without a comprhensive agreement would destroy their leverage for a possible move.
    2. Without knowing everything about the 20 year agreement, we essentially know nothing about it. Like Brett said, it sounds more like a plea that the big strong team is bullying the poor rooftops owners.
    3. What the Ricketts allegedly wanted to do two years ago has absolutely nothing to do with what they should do now. Things change. Also, hanging signage on the rooftops just creates a potential mess. Suppose a new tenant buys one of the houses and wants nothing to do with the Cubs, he could presumably take down the signs. VERY weak comparison
    4. Number 4 has many, many problems. 1. the Dodgers deal has not been finalized/accepted by MLB. 2, the Dodgers had the baility to sell all of their games, something the Cubs will not have until 2019 at the earliest. 2. Even if they are about become much more profitable, why should that preclude them from asking for partial public funding? The city makes TONS of $ off of them, where’s the Cubs piece of the pie? Also, many other teams (INCLUDING THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX) have received public funding in recent years. This point is an absolutely patheticc attempt to play on the whole rich-guy-trying-to-take-state-funds-from-state-in-huge-debt angle.
    5. Ignores the fact that the Rooftop owers basically make their livings by putting seats on their roof. They get by much like the way the little fish swim next to a whale and freeload off the plankton that slips through their gills. Remember in Angels in the Outfield when the cop yells at the boys for watching the game by climbing trees outside the stadium? The rooftop owners are allowed to charge ridiculous rates to profit immensely by being the creepy “neighbors” that stare into their other “neighbors”‘ property. Hey, there is an absolutely beautiful girl that lives across the street from me, I’m not allowed to pull up a chair, stare through her window and watch the show…what gives?

    My thoughts

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  • King Jeff

    Everyone has been talking about Rosemont for the move, but it has issues. I remembered reading this, and hearing about the problems they were having.

    I haven’t been to the area in a while, but there is at least 5 acres available, there is parking in the area, and they are already considering a basketball arena there. Anyone else have any details on why McCormick place property wouldn’t be a good fit?

    • Al Spangler

      It is awfully close to Sox Park.

  • Kevin

    I’m throwing this question out there fully not expecting an answer as I haven’t heard anything concrete as to how the agreement with the rooftops is worded. If the Cubs decide to move do you believe there’s a stipulation worded in the agreement that the Cubs would still have to pay the rooftop owners?

  • RichP

    Break out the bulldozers.

  • http://BleacherNation Cap_Bucs

    “If the Cubs decide to move do you believe there’s a stipulation worded in the agreement that the Cubs would still have to pay the rooftop owners?”

    No, the Cubs pay nothing. The contract is just revenue sharing where the rooftops give back 17.5% (?) of their revenue to the Cubs. Thus if the Cubs break the contract by changing the views, they have to forfeit that revenue. The Cubs will easily make much more in advertising than from the revenue sharing, so if that was the only issue they would just tear up the contract.

    The Cubs need the city to sign off on any changes to Wrigley. It is Chicago tradition to let the local alderman “block” anything they do not approve of in their Ward. So this all comes down to Turney being in the pocket of the rooftop owners, and will Rahm trample Alderman prerogative in this instance.

  • Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

    Ultimately, we don’t need them to agree to anything. Just Tunney. And technically, just the mayor.

    • CubFan Paul

      I think that’s what the Mayor told the rooftops. “You already have a contract. I’m not forcing them to extend it. If your views aren’t protected in case of a renovation per your contract then oh well.”

      • Crazyhorse

        But they are protected (the roof tops) The Cubs also have to show and promote the rooftops during telecasts , tours and the Cubs own publications. The landmark status can only be overturned by a process that the Alderman would have to start .

  • pj

    Wouldn’t modifying the scoreboard seem to be the best solution? Mount a Jumbotron to the existing structure and there’s your advertising revenue, replay vehicle and scoreboard all in one. The Cubs have done a fine job so far of major structural redesign. The bleacher sidewalk overhang is very well done, for instance.

    One thing has been telling to me all along. The rooftop owners and the city have been holding the Cubs to a certain standard of aesthetics in design, yet it’s the ugliness of the rooftops that have defaced the street scene.

  • another JP

    More reason that when a mayor’s aide runs his pie-hole and laughs off conversation of the Cubs relocation talk, he’d best understand the business motivations and potential returns the Ricketts family is considering. Now the rooftop owners are just daring the Cubs to contest their contract and all this will do is accelerate a move to the suburbs. All the pundits and writers that believe the Cubs will never leave Wrigley better be careful about bashing Ricketts.

  • Jonathan

    When Walter O’Malley moved the Dodgers to LA, he had the option of putting a stadium in Flushing Meadows but NY leadership would not work with him for a site in Brooklyn. He said something to the effect of if I have to move out of Brooklyn, I may as well move across the country. Leaving the sentimentality of Wrigley out of this the Cubs may be able to move downtown or to Lincoln Park or something like that but moving to Rosemont or other suburbs would be a huge mistake.

    That said, I am pretty sure this is all poturing for a better deal.

  • Anc13nt Evil

    I don’t comment on here very often, but I want to throw in my two cents in on this. The cubs moving away from Wrigley Field and into a new stadium is fine with me.(not to Rosemont though) It will be sad and an “end of an era”, but i’m ok with it. The building is old as, well, you know. (rhymes with duck) and they can’t just keep ripping and replacing, ripping and replacing, adding, and ripping and replacing some more. People have to be realistic and admit that the Cubs won’t be playing there forever. There will come a time in the future when they will have to have a new stadium. Maybe it’s better they just do that now. Aside from a major incident where half the place suddenly falls down, most of the people probably won’t like a move, but tough titties. They could still do something like “Vintage Wrigley Series” where they play a few games at the old Wrigley a couple of times a year or something. I approve a move and maybe it’s best to get it over with instead of delaying the inevitable.

  • gutshot5820

    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The rooftops statement is very telling. Basically, it means there is no chance the Ricketts are going to make any concessions to the rooftops as I suspect they having been drawing the line since day one.

    Together, with Theo’s recent statement of looking for alternatives and the self-imposed deadline, you have to at least assume that the Cubs will definitely be looking for alternatives and it no longer becomes wild speculation. After April 1st, another year will be lost in revenues and planning and I suppose the Ricketts will be wanting some sort of concessions or compensation from the city in order to be persuaded to stay in Chicago.. Once it becomes made clear that the Ricketts are taking bids from other cities, the power and leverage swings entirely in the Ricketts favor. The city and the mayor will then bend over backwards and kiss the Ricketts ass in order to persuade them to stay. It would be near political suicide for Rahm, if he were the mayor that caused the Cubs to leave Chicago.

    In the end, i do believe the Cubs will stay, but with more concessions and gifts from the city of Chicago than was planned initially. I have to say, for a politician that is supposed to be so smart and played his hand so well earlier. He sure knew how to turn a political win into a lemon.

    • Katie


  • Cheryl

    The cubs leaving of Chicago is not as far-fetched as it seems. They have probably assessed the costs of building a new stadium versus repairing an old one. It’d be interesting to see what the trade-offs might be for such a move, Wrigley is historical but what the Ricketts could make with a larger more modern stadium may be well above a stay in Chicago.

  • BluBlud

    Gosh man I swear, I wish the rooftop owners would just cease to exist. I am glad to see they are losing leverage or that they don’t really have any. I hope Ricketts has a way of getting out of that contract without them making another dollar. Ricketts is a very smart man who knows exactly what he is doing. I probably have more trust or faith in him then Theo. I don’t think he going to agree to any deal that involves the rooftops benefitting.

    • Cheryl

      When the cubs were bought by Ricketts did agreements entered into through a previous ownership carry over to the current ownership?Or, were there some modificaions to that agreement of 2004? I doubt Ricketts would have agreed to every aspect of that agreement. There could be some clause within the agreement that would benefit the new ownership.

      • JulioZuleta

        When you buy a company, you buy everything, good and bad. It’s very similar to the player contracts. Can’t dump them just because new ownership doesn’t like the deals.

  • Crazyhorse

    The only way for the Cubs can to break the contract is thru Tunney both sides knew this is the only option. The alderman in this ward has the power, both sides knew this to be true when the Cubs signed the contracts and when the Rickets family bought the team.

    THe only way the Cubs can gain leverage is too sway public opinion away from Tunney. The Cubs have done everything to do this. Like i said many times . THe Cubs have every right to move the team. They are better off to let the Contracts expire and deal with the signage at a later date, The Cubs can start with renovation and still get Wrigley Field up and going into the 21 century.

    Instead the Cubs want to play Chicken banking they can break rooftops and pressure Tunney to use a clause in the contract that would enable them to void the contracts.
    If Tunney says no- than the Cubs will need to decide if the threat to move will be put forward. A move that may cost the team a lot more money then people may realize ,and at best ….be just as profitable. Being as profitable is a risk the Cubs should not take- just wait out the contract, i feel is the best options for the Cubs .