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respect wrigleyOne of the more visible and vocal rooftop owners during the ongoing Wrigley Field renovation/funding fiasco is Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers. She was in attendance at Tuesday’s neighborhood meeting about the renovation, and suggested that she believed a deal will eventually get done. The comments stood in stark contrast to an angry press release issued by the rooftops, which, to me, suggested that they’d been abandoned by their political allies or cut out of the negotiations entirely.

In an interview with Chet Coppock posted to NoozeBox.com, Murphy confirmed that, indeed, the rooftop owners have been cut out of the negotiations. From Murphy’s perspective, Alderman Tom Tunney – whom she cautions is not merely in the pocket of the rooftops – is hopefully representing the rooftops’ interests (together with the rest of the neighborhood) in the negotiations with the Cubs and the City. In other words, that press release was as much a plea to Tunney (by way of trying to sway his constituents and public opinion) as to anyone.

That the rooftops do not currently have a seat at the negotiating table doesn’t necessarily mean that the Cubs are planning to block them out of existence – or could even if they wanted to. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that the negotiations have gotten any easier. Presumably, Tunney is still representing the rooftop interests in those negotiations, and maybe it’s for the best that the Cubs and the rooftops are essentially negotiating through an intermediary. Then it’s just business.

I think it’s fair to guess, however, that, if the Cubs/rooftop contract was absolutely iron-clad with respect to the Cubs not being able to block any rooftop views under any circumstances, it would be impossible to not have them at the negotiating table throughout this process. (Murphy told Coppock that she wishes the rooftops and other neighborhood associations were allowed to be involved in the negotiations, directly, meaning that the fact that they are currently excluded is not by their own choice.) In other words, the agreement – as we’ve suspected based on comments from those who have seen it, and from the reluctance of the rooftop owners to talk about the contract language – probably has some flabby provisions in it, and there’s room for the Cubs to maneuver. That’s probably the primary reason that the rooftops are relying on Tunney and the political process so extensively, rather than on their own contractual rights.

In the interview, Murphy says the rooftops are sticking to their offer to place advertising on the rooftop buildings and give that revenue to the Cubs, rather than to allow the Cubs to place advertising in Wrigley Field, which might block the rooftop views. She believes the Cubs should honor their agreement with the rooftops, and Coppock goes so far as to suggest that, if the Cubs were to move out of Wrigley Field, that would be a breach of the agreement with the rooftops (I’d imagine that’s going to rile some of you up, though it might technically be true).

A deal remains virtually impossible by Monday, the Cubs’ self-imposed deadline, but hopefully we’ll learn that day or soon thereafter that a deal is close. The Cubs wouldn’t let that date slide without a significant change in approach unless a deal was legitimately close, in the sense that it’s just a matter of procedural requirements before the deal can be announced. That is all to say: I still suspect that, by the end of next week, we’re going to have a good sense of what direction things are going to go.

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

  • savant

    Calm down Ace.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Quoi?

  • ETS

    My fantasy team name is “Rosemont Cubs” (fwiw)

  • JJ

    It would be nice if the rooftops produced the contract — much speculation would end by seeing the language. If the contract provides unobstructed view of Wrigley, then there is no breach, but I’d hope the rooftops’ lawyers were smarter than that.

    • MichiganGoat

      You don’t produce something that might hurt you

      • attorney dude

        (guy who will get disbarred some day)

        • hansman1982

          This isn’t a trial. MichiganGoat is not an attorney.

          I’ll add the qualifer for the Goat – Since this isn’t a trial and you are not forced to produce the document…

          • MichiganGoat

            exactly why would you make public something that will only hurt you, if this gets to court then sure the document will be presented and ultimately made public, BUT until you are forced to produce the contract why would you unless the contract helps your case.

  • Jono

    YOU’RE RIGHT, IT DID RILE ME UP! IM GOING CAP LOCKS ALL OVER YOUR ASSES!

  • Jono

    What if ricketts agreed to put advertising on the buildings across the street if they renegotiated the 17% share higher to make up for the less revenue they’d get compared to advertising in the stadium?

    • Edwin

      I’m sure that would be floated out as a compromise; the problem is if the additional revenue from advertising in the stadium surpasses the combined revenue from the rooftop owner’s ticket sales and the rooftop signs. If the Cubs feel that in stadium signage generates more revenue, they’ll fight hard to get out of their current agreement with the Rooftop Owners. And the rooftop owners are going to fight as hard as they can to try and keep their revenue stream alive.

      • Jono

        I was just thinking that, too. If my memory serves me correctly (and id like it if brett would correct me if im wrong), the in-stadium advertising is worth at least 30a million a year (that may JUST be for the jumbotron) and the across-the-street ads would be like 10-15 million a year. Again, please correct me if im wrong. So ricketts would need at least 15-20 million just from an increased share in the rooftops profits. Does that sound right? And I have NO IDEA what kind of money those rooftops bring in

    • Kevin

      At this point I can’t see the Cubs working with RT owners on continued revenue sharing. The Cubs may decide to stay at Wrigley, if, and only if, they are able to purchase ALL the RT buildings and somehow incorporate them into the renovation. Additionally, if things don’t line up perfectly they are probably moving.

  • MichiganGoat

    In the next few days I suspect that we will hear more from the rooftops and very little from the Cubs, the city, or Tunney. The rooftops are now in plea mode trying to rile up public support and regain the political influence they may never have really had in the first place. I can’t really blame them since it is there job to try and maximize the product they provide, but all these public actions just shows how desperate they are for somebody to come to their aid. In these matters the loudest voice is typically the voice that is losing or lost.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Guys, it has been obvious for many months, the rooftops have no protection in their contract. The Cubs have the right to renovate their stadium, and if that blocks views, so sorry. Good luck suing billion dollar corporations.
    I was told this morning that the Cubs have really been playing hardball the last few weeks, going for the jugular. They have flat out said, if we rebuild this stadium, there are not going to be any windows in to watch ball games, there is going to be big advertising signs.. And adamant about 45 night games. They know they have the leverage now, you have thousands of people protesting, cops making arrests, over 50 public schools closing. And Rahm is going to blow a huge money making deal for the city over Beth Murphy and her band of clowns little world? Tunney was losing it in the meeting supposedly. Panic time in the big city.

  • #Rich

    someone posted about virtual advertising that could be seen on tv but of course not at Wrigley..(like shot clock on the floor of a bb game )

    I would think that could be an option sooner than later ?

    I thought that was a pretty good idea…

    • hansman1982

      You also miss out on 3 million pairs of eyeballs seeing the ads every year.

      • Beer Baron

        More like 1.5 million — I still contend that roughly half of the people inside Wrigley have no idea what is happening on the field. Maybe the Cubs need to start doing to mobile target marketing and sending ads to the phones of the drunk ass clowns who are more worried about starting the wave than watching the game.

      • aCubsFan

        While in stadium advertising along/around the outfield walls can be seen by the fans in the stands, the value is all about TV. Very similar to the NHL. The dashers are filled with advertising, but few if any fans can actually see the dashers. It’s all about the TV revenue.

        Typically these advertisements are for national brands unlike the signage at minor league parks with is all about local businesses.

    • MichiganGoat

      they are already doing that for nationally televised games, if you go to live baseball you’ll notice a few blue/green screens around that are used for televised advertisments. Most of them are behind the batters box.

  • Ivy Walls

    Strategically I think Ricketts and the Cubs either have to acquire the Roof Tops or put them out of business or both. probably both. The roof tops are a parasitic business enterprise, they possess no inherent risk outside the inherent risk that the Cubs are a product that they can getting revenues from, they offer no inherent value to the Cubs outside the nebulous or intangible view on TV as a social happening. Don’t get me wrong this website is a parasitic business model, as is the Chicago Tribune, WGN or private parking lots that dot around the ball park, neighborhood bars but except for the event parking lots and this website the other parasitic business (Chicago Tribune, WGN, StubHub) they possess other product offerings, the Roof Tops do not either.

    The difference also is that they serve interests of the Cubs by promoting their product or serving customer needs without adding to the Cubs risk, asset costs or whatever, but none of them compete with the actual paying customers coming to the ball park or those viewing it on MLB.tv or contracted media rights (Comcast, WGN, ESPN, FOX) which is contracted money received.

    But the roof tops compete directly for the same customer that comes to Wrigley, and if when they renovate those roof top customers will targets for the Cubs, who own the product and service offering the roof tops are now offering.

    Leverage is leverage but is only valued when or if it is used. Good will has value but will the roof tops be part of the multi billion dollar renovation, will they contribute, they they take on any risk or will they simply gather a piece of opportunity. They don’t have a seat at the table because they don’t have skin the game.

    I think the Cubs either offer an exit point for a roof top operation and incorporate it into the overall business model or they put them out of business.

    • MichiganGoat

      I too think the ultimate end game is that Ricketts purchases the rooftops and eventually expand Wrigley in some capacity with that real estate.

  • steveo

    I would personally love to see the Cubs move to Rosemont. It would be much easier for me to get to games, as well as lots of other people. And I wouldn’t have to drive through all of the city traffic to get there.

  • Jono

    Didn’t tom and joe ricketts originally get the idea of buying the cubs when they were on one of the rooftops watching a game? It’s either simply ironic, or their idea of buying the team originally revolved around the possibilities of acquiring the rooftops

  • #Rich

    big difference between advertising and marketing.
    You can tell me 50 million cars pass a billboard, that does not mean
    1. they see it
    2. they buy because of it.

    after 35 + years as a Cubs fan…I still have no idea what that old TORCO sign was..

    I remember it though…

    • aCubsFan

      Actually, advertising is a tactical element of marketing. The purpose of advertising is to promote your business or product. Marketing goes well beyond the tactical elements and includes the strategy of how to reach your target audiences while achieving corporate objectives.

      You are right billboards are a medium used to reach people in their cars, trucks, or on trains or buses. Generally, they are used to build brand awareness over time, but they can be used to cause someone to take a desired action like buy a lottery ticket, etc.

      You remember the brand more than the actual sign or product so it did its purpose.

  • OCCubFan

    Here’s a more baseball-centric comment. If the Cubs erect tall billboards around the outfield, that will reduce the influence of the wind. Right now, Wrigley plays quite differently depending on whether the wind is blowing in or out. That would change. I would think that would make it much easier for the Cubs to construct a team to take advantage of their home field.

    • Cubbie Blues

      To get the true affects of billboards on the wind a simulation analysis would have to be done. It would probably raise the level at which the ball is effected, but it could cause more swirling of that wind.

    • hansman1982

      Actually, it’s really easy to construct a team to play well. Get 8 guys who will out OPS/wOBA their positional peers and 5 starting pitchers who can get the opposing offense to not OPS/wOBA their positional peers.

      • MightyBear

        Easier said than done. That’s like saying it’s easy to lose weight – diet and exercise.

        • hansman1982

          Very true. I would say that “building a team to suit your home park” is a myth. Just focus on getting guys who can slug.

          • hansman1982

            Furthermore (breaking these up as my old IE browser (DANG YOU WORK) likes to crash after a bit of loading BN), the Padres play in a pitching friendly park, does that mean they will win if they load up on Tony Campana’s?

            No, guys who can hit homers easily in places like Coors and US Cell (in 2011, they had identical park factors for home runs at 112) will still be slugging at PETCO.

            In 2011, the Cardinals had the 2nd worst field for home runs and 5th worst for doubles (throwing out PF for triples because it seems to be a pretty screwy range (Dodgers last with 78, Diamondbacks first with 130)), yet they still did pretty good with a slugging lineup.

            The Cubs should not concern themselves with what happens when the wind blows in.

      • DarthHater

        It’s also really easy to get approval of stadium renovation plans. Just get 26 out of 50 aldermen who will vote your way. What could be simpler?

  • mjhurdle

    Just my personal opinion, but i think that the Cubs should prepare to move locations now, and only stay if the neighborhood is willing to make serious concessions.
    I do not blame the neighborhood per se, because they are only trying to maximize their value, but i also do not think that obligates the Cubs into staying.
    And i understand the financial/logistical difficulties involved in the Cubs relocating.
    But those difficulties will never go away. At some point you have to decide between biting the bullet and moving, and staying at the present location knowing that every single change you will want to make involving your team will be fought tooth and nail by the neighborhood/city.
    I would move not just because of this renovation, but also the next, and the next, and the next.
    As much as you may want to believe that one day the neighborhood/city will work hand in hand with the Cubs, that is simply unrealistic.
    Add to that the only thing keeping the Cubs in Wrigleyville is the historic value of the site.
    I think you could make a move, and bring enough nostalgic pieces from the old ballpark (scoreboard, brick walls, plant ivy, foul poles, etc) that the new park would feel close enough to the old to be acceptable, and the surrounding community would actually welcome the presence of the Cubs.

  • Die hard

    Ricketts could buyout Murphy’s and other selected owners if City would change zoning for those properties to help with parking

    • Cubbie Blues

      You can’t buy something that the owner doesn’t want to sell. They tried buying a few back in 2011.

      • JoyceDaddy

        With talk of moving the team out of Wrigley, and the Cubs potentially breaching the contract as it is already, maybe the rooftop owners are giving in to the idea of being bought out now? Knowing how big of an ego Beth Murphy has, I would imagine not. But, maybe.

        • hansman1982

          The only way a move from Wrigley would breach the contract is if it says the Cubs will guarrantee they will play X games a year there (or something to that effect).

          If there was a clause in here to this effect, the contract would be released by the rooftops.

          My guess is that the Tribune lawyers got the rooftops to GIDP while allowing the runner at third to score.

  • JoyceDaddy

    Hey Brett, little typo I noticed. ” (Murphy told Coppock at she wishes the rooftops and other ” Anyways, this article makes me a lot more comfortable about the situation. It sounds like a deal will get cut, and I’m curious to see how it all plays out. Question for you Brett; could the Cubs hypothetically buy out all of the rooftops? It obviously wouldn’t happen all at once, but if the Cubs controlled the rooftops, these negotiations wouldn’t be necessary. Do you think that the Cubs might be trying to possibly buy some of the rooftops out now, so that the obstructed views issue no longer becomes one? Just thinking outside the box here.

  • JT

    I’m sure Rosemont could sweeten the pot even more and no doubt will.
    Come on Rosemont step up and give the Cubs an offer they can’t refuse!

    • caryatid62

      I’d prefer Rosemont not “sweeten the pot,” as doing so would likely screw over taxpayers. The Cubs SHOULD have to pay for all their stadium needs, regardless of location. Now that they’ve worked out that part of the deal with the city, everyone else should get out of the way.

      The Cubs moving to Rosemont with some sweetheart deal would be bad for the Cubs, bad for Lakeview, and bad for the taxpayers of Rosemont. It would be cutting all of our noses off to spite our faces.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I hate my face! Screw you, face!

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

          We all hate your face. Could you change your avatar?

          *ducks*

  • Tommy

    One thing is for sure – if this contract with the rooftops does continue through it’s life, when it ends, the rooftops will not be seeing a dime of revenue from the bleachers thereafter. There will certainly be no future contract after this one ends.

  • Die hard

    If weatherman right won’t be too many roof top parties in April

  • Cheryl

    Its a matter of control. The cubs want to be in a position to control their revenue and increase their revenue. If they can’t, they will move. Rahm realizes this and to have the cubs leave Chicago is something he can’t afford politically.Right now Ricketts appears to be in the driver’s seat. What baseball team would block the cubs from moving if it factors down to letting someone else control them? If they decide its more feasible to move they will and they’ll probably get the other owners blessing.But the cubs have to show they’ve made an attempt to work with the city and I believe they have.

  • Al Spangler

    Move.

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