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respect wrigleyAccording to the reported details of the agreement the Chicago Cubs are believed to have reached with the City, with input from Alderman Tom Tunney, some of the rooftop buildings dotting the outfield at Wrigley will be impacted by signage the Cubs are expected to erect along the outfield wall. The extent to which they will be impacted is yet unknown, but reports say the Cubs intend to honor the 11 years remaining on their revenue sharing agreement with the rooftops.

Having been cut out of the negotiations, the rooftops once again took to the only platform they’ve got – the press release – to express their displeasure with any deal that threatens the views of any rooftops.

The release from a few minutes ago:

Wrigleyville Rooftops Association Statement

CHICAGO – The apparent decision to allow the Chicago Cubs to block the views of some Wrigleyville Rooftops is in direct violation of the current 20-year agreement entered into by the Cubs and the Rooftop owners. While Rooftop owners support the concept of renovating Wrigley Field, exact plans for outfield signage have not been provided to these contractual partners.

The in-force contract negotiated by federal mediators which enumerates revenue sharing between the Cubs and their neighbors – along with the accompanying landmark ordinance – protects the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers” until at least 2024. Any construction that interrupts the Rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.

Statement from Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers and spokesperson for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association:

“We reserve judgment until said proposals are publicized, however we are deeply troubled that 16 small businesses were not party to talks where their contractual rights were at stake. Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We support a renovated Wrigley Field, but the neighborhood and its businesses should be partners in the debate as we have over the last 30 years.”

It seems strange to issue a press release lamenting the impact of a deal that no one has actually yet announced or revealed. The Cubs – and Alderman Tunney – would not have reached an agreement unless they felt like they were on good footing with respect to the rooftops contract. To me, that means either the Cubs are comfortable fighting this battle in court (after all, only they and the rooftops know the precise language in the contract), or they don’t believe the minimal blocking that will occur is going to cause the rooftops any serious harm in the next 11 years.

Still, a lawsuit – which has always been my greatest concern with respect to incorporating the rooftops in these discussions – is rarely a good thing. Lawsuits are long, expensive, and unpredictable. Would a judge grant an injunction against the Cubs erecting their signage until the dispute with the rooftops is litigated? If so, could the litigation be completed before next season? Do the Cubs or the rooftops really want to subject their internal financial documents to discovery? Would the rooftops seeks an injunction of the entire renovation process? Could they get it? (I doubt it.) Would the Cubs be reluctant to start writing checks with an uncertain lawsuit looming overhead? I just don’t know. None of us do, really. That’s what you get with lawsuits.

So, hopefully this is just posturing – for a better sale price, perhaps? for a new contract? or simply for more details? – on the part of frustrated rooftops, who feel like they’ve been excluded in this process, and possibly abandoned by Tunney.

What actually happens from here, with respect to the rooftops, remains to be seen. I just don’t think a lawsuit is a good idea for anyone involved.

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

  • Believe in 2015

    What a mess

  • Tony

    I’m sure the Ricketts family can afford better lawyers than those rooftop maggots. Sue away, you leeches!!! The free ride gravy train is nearing the end.

  • DarthHater

    Let the boycotts begin!

  • Rich G

    Wasn’t there a hitch in the contract (in favor of the team) stating something like the current views stand ‘unless the city of Chicago signs off on the changes to the ballpark’?

    • cjdubbya

      Here’s what Brett had to say from back in February (link: http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/02/04/obsessive-wrigley-renovation-watch-some-reported-details-about-the-contract-with-the-rooftops/)

      “While the contract obviously contemplates protecting the rooftop views, it explicitly states that ”any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation” of the agreement.”

      So how does that get interpreted? That may be the crux of the whole argument – at least in regards to what the public knows about this contract.

      • DarthHater

        Interpretation of that phrase seems to come down to whether this renovation project is an “expansion of Wrigley Field” within the meaning of the agreement. I suppose the RTOs can argue that the clause was only intended to cover an expansion and doe snot apply here because the Cubs are renovating without expanding. Meh. I’ve seen worse legal arguments.

        • DarthHater

          *does not apply. Applying doe snot is an entirely different matter. :-P

          • http://none millhah

            doe pee i’ve heard of…but snot?!?

            • cjdubbya

              It’s like that deer antler spray that Ray Lewis used, only it comes out of the nose of a deer.

            • DarthHater

              I’m so happy that I was able to initiate this conversation… :-D

          • frank

            Is doe snot a PED? Like Deer Antler spray?

            • frank

              Ah cjdubbya–you beat me to it!

        • frank

          I think you’re right–the answer will hinge on the definition of “expansion” within the meaning of the agreement. So–does “expansion” apply only to seating capacity? to the physical boundaries of the park? to measures intended to expand revenue streams? It seems, without seeing the exact language of the contract, that the rooftop owners’ only chance is to hope that “expansion” is as narrowly construed as possible–so as to apply to seating capacity alone.

          • baldtaxguy

            Then “narrowly” expand – add a row of a handful of seats.

  • Kris

    I don’t really care if the rooftops survive or not. Those people are not interested in the cubs being an improved franchise….they just want their cash. I say put them out of business and if the people paying for seats on the rooftops can’t be bothered to buy a ticket from the cubs…then they are not really cubs fans. Put em out of business Tom!

  • JulioZuleta

    The rooftops reallllly need to consider selling their property at high market value right now. I think it’s pretty clear that the Cubs have no intention of extending their agreement past the 11 years. So, each year between not and 2024, the rooftop owners get one year closer to being out of business. We know this, they know this, prospective buyers know this. If the Cubs are offering fair market value, they would be wise to consider it. Their leverage in any sale only goes down with each passing home game.

    • ETS

      Anyone who would buy that property is going to know the circumstances with the cubs.

      • JulioZuleta

        I was suggesting the people that would buy the property would BE the Cubs. My point is that the value of those properties is going to fall each and every year.In 2024, the Cubs are not going to offer much for a building that is essentially no longer a profitable business establishment.

  • Brian

    O.k. Todd, Laura, J. Peter, time to out vote Tom and get the Move on!

    • Kevin

      Wow! Already a lawsuit in the making? Enough is enough, move on, f@$k Wrigleyville and move on. Tom – listen to your brothers and sister and pull the hell out.

  • Jason

    I have so many problems with the rooftop owners considering themselves a business. What product or service do they sell? They hold a house party and charge $150-300 for it and people are dumb enough to buy.

  • Featherstone

    I agree we Brett we dont know the details of contract signed by the Cubs, but I can safely assume that rich people like the Ricketts don’t get rich by making dumb decisions. As dirty as it feels it does feel kind of nice that for once the money-fueled juggernaut that is the American legal system is working in “our” favor.

  • FFP

    Yet another reason to read BN: our own in-house legal department. Cool.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    slurp slurp the sound of beth murphy eating at the cubs trough. the poor murphy family been stealing the product for years. wrigleyville another name for parasites.

  • corey costello

    I hope for the sake of wrigley there’s no god damn jumbotrons.

  • corey costello

    Actually, why not put jumbotrons on the rooftops that don’t have any seats?

    • North Side Irish

      That was suggested by the rooftop owners, but they wouldn’t show up on TV very much which would limit the value of the advertising.

      • corey costello

        How is that a reason? It would show up just as much any time they would if they were on the wall? just a bit deeper.

  • 100 Years of Tears

    Brett- between the ‘Venetian’ ads with the lady in the pool and the ‘want an Asian wife?’ ads, this site is getting risky to read at work… or at home with the kids around… yikes!

    Anyway, thanks for the continuous updates about the renovation and the blood sucking roof tops (which also advertise on this site, but which in no way impacts how you’ve covered this story)…

    • Brian

      Where did I miss them ads?!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The ads are idiosyncratic to the reader, so a tip on the side – if you ever don’t like the ads you’re seeing, give the broswer a clear of the cache, and it should change.

      • Rmoody100

        Bazinga

      • 100 Years of Tears

        I guess as long as it’s not an indication that someone’s been searching for an Asian wife on my work computer, I’m ok with it… otherwise…

        • JulioZuleta

          Haha, now we know what 100 Years looks at online.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Now, now. It’s not quite *that* simple.

          • 100 Years of Tears

            ugh, my secrets are revealed…
            Actually, if it were based on search history, I’d pretty much get ads for Bleacher Nation… hmmm, would it be possible to somehow make money by advertising on his own site? There’s gotta be a way.

            • Friendly advise

              Also if you use Google Chrome you can get the adblock Plus extension. I haven’t seen a add on any website in over a year.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I won’t discourage it, though you should know that sites like this are only able to keep operating because of ads. By blocking them, you’re hurting the sustainability of smaller sites like this one.

                • DarthHater

                  I’ll buy some of your merchandise, instead. ;-)

                  • DarthHater

                    Perhaps I’ll try a Bleacher Nation thong – to wear when I’m on Die Hard’s lawn! :-P

                    • hansman1982

                      SO YOU’RE THE ONE!!!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          No, not necessarily.

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        For us technophobes, how do ‘give the browser a clear of the cache’? Thanks.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Depends on the browser – generally it’s an option up at the top.

    • frank

      Hey! I’m not getting any Asian wife ads! Ah well–probably better that way . . .

  • Chris84

    I assumed someone would sue someone else at the end of all this.

    • matt

      Yeah, it had to end this way. 500 mil to the city of Chicago was just WAY too much for the city to throw away. You had to know eventually the 500 mil for Chicago vs the 17 mil (or whatever it is) for the rooftops was eventually going to talk. I’m not sure the rooftops have a foot to stand on. They should probably just take what is left, and negotiate to keep the premium buildings on Waveland down the line, and on Sheffield down the line as well, and hope the party will continue to attract well enough in left and right center fields.

  • matt

    They don’t charge $150-$300 for a game. I believe $150 is the high end for the waveland building, and I’m not going to lie..for the money for all you can eat, drink, and still have great seats…It’s better then being in Wrigley with the obstructed view of the upper deck, and poles.

    • JulioZuleta

      I guess that depends on your definition of “great seats.” Mine does not include sitting 600 feet away from a game where the main object is a ball with a diameter of 2.9 inches.

      • matt

        A game with a ball with the diameter of 2.9 inches, you aren’t seeing the pitch unless you have “great seats”. I’d say they are the equivalent of the upper deck seats down the lines, and possibly better if you get the obstructed view from the poles holding the roof up.

        Plus, they do specials during the year for discounted tickets, and when you can do the game, free food, and drink around $70-$90, I challenge you to find that inside Wrigley Field.

        So given the whole package, I would say they are great.

    • Really

      Great seats….common man. I will give you the eat, drink, and T.V. part of the deal but great seats that is a strech my friend.

      • matt

        Great I guess was an exaggeration, but if you’ve never done it, you should. They are good seats, and I will take them over the obstructed view seats in Wrigley. Honestly, a Diamondback player threw us a ball up there last year.

        • gutshot5820

          Matt, the way you are talking up the rooftops and the experience there, great seats, cost etc… makes me think you are a rooftop employee or associated with the rooftops in some capacity.

          There is nothing good to say about the RTO right about now. Honestly, I used to get free tickets annually to the rooftops from a few banks and never used them. What’s the point of going to a ballgame and sitting on someones’s roof to barbecue and watch the game on tv. I can do that at home cheaper and with better food and drinks. I have to believe most of the RTO tickets sales come from large parties or corporations.

          • hawkcub

            I believe until recently(last 2-3 years) you could only buy them in large groups.

    • Bricklayer

      If you want to watch a baseball game, the rooftops are awful. If you want to socialize and drink and talk in the backdrop of a baseball game, the rooftops are better suited for that. But at that point it’s the equivalent of an outdoor beer garden with the game playing on all the TVs.

  • forlines

    I don’t know the legality/specs of the situation, but if the current owners didn’t enter into the contract, wouldn’t that make it void after the team was sold?

    • Noah

      No. They’d still be in privity of contract.

    • Rob

      No – I am not a lawyer but I work in business – it the agreement was with the organization that is the Cubs – whatever that “legal” name is, and any successor company, a sale would not impact it. If Sam Zell owns a retail strip mall, and someone buys it from him, the Jewel and all the other stores don’t break their leases just because the strip mall was sold.

  • Jeremy

    The Rooftop owners have lived with a tremendous cash cow for the past few years, and yet have failed to realize that without the Cubs they would have made zero dollars during that time if the Cubs were not there..

    How easily they bit the hand that feeds them. They were effectively stealing a product before the agreement with the Cubs…

    I’m sick of the rooftop owners..

    • matt

      Me too, however the Cubs allowed them to do this. So of course they are going to fight to keep it.

  • fortyonenorth

    “…negotiated by federal mediators…”

    Is a federal mediator someone who works for the feds or is it a guy who mediates in St. Louis one day and San Francisco the next.

    • Noah

      That’s actually a really vague term, but I’d bet closer to the latter. Maybe a mediator who specializes in the application of federal law and procedure?

  • Noah

    Outside of the politics on this, it would be very difficult to get an injunction on this. To start, there’s no real reason is move for a TRO or preliminary injunction because the harm isn’t immediate. At earliest we’d be looking at harm starting a year from now. Second, their damages are purely economic and there’s no reason they wouldn’t be able to be reasonably determined fairly easily.

    Now, the politics of this could make it messy, but there is no real legal reason for an injunction here.

    • DarthHater

      Cubs can’t be expected to start sinking money into actual work with the threat of future legal action that might it impossible to complete that work. They might want to look consider filing a pre-emptive action for declaratory judgment asking a court to construe the agreement and declare that it does not preclude the contemplated renovations.

      • DarthHater

        *might make it impossible
        **might want to consider

        I need to type slower. :-P

  • Jon

    As a guy who runs a successful business across 7 states; I would love to see this contact between the Cubs and the Wrigelyville Rooftop Association.

  • chrisfchi

    Being the bleacher bum that I am, I’m all for the renovation. It used to be tradition for my friends and I to stop at Murphy’s before and after the game. The bar is always packed and their prices are pretty high. But now I will boycott Murphy’s, as the greed of the rooftops becomes more and more transparent thru all of this.

    • hawkcub

      Hey I’d be all about a boycott of Murphy’s and the rooftops. Except for the fact I’ve never went or had a desire to go to the Roof Tops. Only been to Murphy’s two or 3 times. Never really liked it.

      I do wonder if Murphy’s takes a hit this year. Even if 5% of the people that used to go there don’t go there it would be good.

      • chrisfchi

        Until recently i never knew the owners of Murphy’s had rooftop stakes, let alone spoke for the owners. As a business manager, all their doing is painting themselves in a bad light, which I believe is bad for business.

  • Dustin S

    I’m sure the Cubs legal team has reviewed the contract thoroughly and was contacted before any decision making. If I were the rooftops I’d interpret this as advance notice to definitely sell before the agreement ends. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for some of the Cubs boardroom meetings to know what their vision of the team is from an off-field perspective in 5-10 (or 11) years, once the new tv deals kick-in and the rooftop contract expires.

  • JulioZuleta

    Complete sidenote: Ben Badler just posted his list of 10 youngers players by league. Starlin Castro is STILL the 8th youngest player in the NL. (Bryce Harper would be the 3rd youngest player in AA…wow)

  • hawkcub

    Outside of Murphy’s which bars in Wrigleyville own a rooftop?

    • Old Style

      I know the Cubby Bear owner has 3 or 4 rooftops

      • hawkcub

        Yeah I thought they had at least a couple.

  • Mrcub1958

    Dear Rooftop Owners,

    At the end of 11 years you will need a Spaceneedle to see our games,

    Love,

    The Ricketts

  • TSB

    Hope the rooftop peeps just move to Rosemont; parasites all

  • TimBeam

    The rooftops are really making it easy for the Cubs to not want to extend a contract past 2024.

  • ruby2626

    Sounds like if we expand the bleachers and also put in the advertising we’ll be ok. I still think we should deck the bleachers and close Waveland Avenue. Be nice to have a ballpark that didn’t have the smallest capacity of any park. Ok maybe Boston is smaller but you get my drift.

  • cubzfan23

    What a joke… Its not even their product. Get over it scared their losing their gravy train. i say block away.

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