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.]

  • ETS


  • Old Style

    I’m all for the cubs increasing revenue streams but for those who are on the “screw the rooftops” bandwagon, just remember they employ a lot of people. And from my experiences from working on the rooftops when I was younger as a side job, a lot of those employees make a hell of a lot more /hr than they do at their main jobs, and really rely on it as a supplement. I just wouldn’t want to see them completely go away.

    • matt

      Not only do they employ alot of people, but let’s not forget the Cubs allowed this. So, as small business owners I’m sure they’ve invested a pretty penny in these rooftops figuring their contract was good enough. It’s not very ethical to just break the contract and totally hose these businesses without some sort of compensation.

      I can see both sides of it, and hope they can come to an agreement that works for everyone.

      • Brian

        The Tribune Cubs, “allowed” this. The current owners should have a way out, without having to compensate these greedy people.

        • -mp

          The Ricketts knew about the rooftop contract when they bought the team. They should honor the contract or buy out the members of the association.

          • Tom A.

            Who says they will not honor the contract. The only ones talking are the rooftop owners. The same people that are stealing views now want to steal more money.

      • Chris

        I don’t know that you can say the Cubs “allowed” this. The rooftop owners did this on their own for many years before there was any agreement in place with the Cubs. They built their businesses based on a bad business model: stealing someone else’s product without explicit permission. And the investments made were, in part, caused by the city making them bring the rooftops and seating up to code, as any business like that should. There was never any dialogue with the Cubs until they finally decided to put up those screens 10 years ago. They were making money on those rooftops well before that. Don’t get me wrong, the rooftop experience is kind of cool, but they built their businesses on shaky ground from the start.

      • Tom A.

        I really doubt the Cubs will break the lease. But, the rooftop lost their chance to be reasonable and now will just be history in 11 more years. BTW, I really hope the bar Murphy’s is gone long before that, when the City uses its power of eminent domain and takes over the land for use to build a much needed 300 car parking lot.

    • Tom A.

      At this point, they had a chance to be sensible and strike a reasonable deal with the Cubs and they chose to use press releases and threats.

      As stated so well be the Beatles, na na na na good bye !

      • Edwin

        You mean Steam? I don’t think the Beatles wrote that.

        • Tom A.

          Thanks for the correction Edwin. I remembered it as the Beatles.

        • Ruprecht

          no actually he means, “Hey Jude” which was written just a few years before “Steam” by, you guessed it, The Beatles.

    • scorecardpaul

      crack dealers make alot of money also, I don’t feel sorry for them either

  • aCubsFan

    When David Kaplan spoke this morning on WGN Radio, I got the impression there will be no new contract with the rooftop owners and there will be no extension of the current agreement after it expires in 11 years.

  • North Side Irish

    I can’t believe that Beth Murphy is trying to refer to the rooftops as “small business owners”…the rooftops combined for over $20M in revenue in 2011. Apparently I am a “microscopic business owner”.

    • Boogens

      My thoughts exactly!!! Just last week Tunney was trying to sell us on the fact that the RTOs were a “major” economic engine for the neighborhood. Just another lame attempt at spinning whatever story meets their needs.

    • Pat

      There are 16 rooftops, or so the quote says. 1.25 million in revenue per business qualifys as a small business by any existing definition of the term.

      • Boogens

        My argument isn’t that they are or aren’t small businesses. I’m saying that you can’t call yourself a “major economic engine” one week and then small business owners the next just because it suits your purposes.

  • JB88

    There is just about ZERO chance that any court grants an injunction in this case, let alone one in Cook County. It. Just. Ain’t. Happening.

    This is a money damage case, at best

    I’ll also add that any lawyer who did not include language in the contract that permitted the Cubs to renovate the stadium would be a certifiable idiot and I really doubt the Tribune hired an idiot to draft that contract.

    • BT

      If it pertains to the Tribune and their ownership of the Cubs, I would be surprised if there weren’t idiots involed.

    • Kyle

      Let’s be clear: The rooftop association isn’t threatening to sue over renovations. The objectionable parts are expansions, not renovations.

  • Cheryl

    If a lawsuit does occur imo the cubs will look elsewhere. Rahm must be having a fit on this possibility. If an injunction is issued to stop renovation the cubs will have bo choice but to move elsewhere.

    • JB88

      No chance in hell that the Cubs look elsewhere simply if the rooftops file a lawsuit. It just isn’t going to happen. If the rooftops were to somehow get an injunction, maybe then the Cubs would consider it, but more likely the Cubs would just buy out the affected rooftops and move on.

      • Cheryl

        Note – I said if they were to get an injunction.

        • JB88

          Not to be nitpicky, but your first sentence did say if a lawsuit is filed they should look.

  • Tom A.

    Brett — The latest press release is ridiculous! If we could get a list together of the bar owners that also are rooftop owners and the names of any Tunney owned restaurant, could it be published. That way all Cub fans reading your site could make a conscious decision to not spend at those bars and restaurants. It already easy for any of us to boycott the rooftops.

    • Really

      Totally agree. I have been looking for this and haven’t found much yet because I know Murphy’s obviously and Cubby Bear owner has some, but not sure of much else.

    • MatthewJ

      Absolutely agree. This would be a great idea.

  • Die hard

    Likely no injunction issued cause no irreparable harm as damages adequate… Also no anticipatory breach summary judgment likely given issue of fact … and damages can’t be measured til season over … Thus Theo my advice is to tell them to pound sand and will see them in court next year

  • cubmig

    Off topic—-(but reminded by EFS’s image):
    Brett—–what’s the policy on how many images a poster can post? I added one yesterday on the Game Day Message Board and tried to add a second one at the end of the game, but got a message saying I had posted my limit. Can you clarify policy? Thanks.

  • cubmig

    ….sorry Brett…..ETS’s image.

  • Tommy K

    You shouldn’t have an injunction on something like this. Injunctive relief is supposed to be for “irreparable harm”, i.e. harm that cannot be compensated by monetary damages. Any harm here would be financial, and should be pretty easy to establish. Last season we made X revenue, this season we only made Y revenue. X-Y=damages.

    That said, some judges hand out injunctions like candy. Especially in high profile cases.

  • DarthHater


  • Blublud

    Idiot. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots. Oh, and did I mention Idiots. I not only dislike the RTO, I’m at a point now where I absolutely hate them. These are some absolutely despicable people who I feel the air they breath is wasted on. There is no need for them, which is the absolute main reason why I was hoping for a move. May all their buildings collapse, without any physical harm to the tenants of course.

    • Tom A.

      Greedy and thiefs !

      They really are an example of what is wrong in this world. How is it they steal views into the ballpark and then ask for parking garages, police presence and whatever else they ask for behind closed doors ? I wish them no physical harm, but do wish that they would all just disappear and give us back an attractive City skyline and blue skys rather than ugly bleachers on roofs.

  • Cheryl

    Can the City of Chicago fie a restraining order on the RTO?

    • Tom A.

      I bet the City would file an order in response to a petition by Chicago citizens. How about a petition that challenges the whole the concept of serving alcohol to people that are standing or seated on bleachers that are atop roofs ? Especially since the uninformed and intoxicated fan could fall more than 30 feet to their death on to the City sidewalks below. This is so unsafe and so lacking of good common sense and judgment, that I bet and any City alderman supportive of such rooftop seating could be an accomplice to this clear and criminal error in provided zoning.

      • Westbound Willie

        What’s wrong with drinking too much and falling off the roof?

  • Barroof

    Tom A ? Does the “A” stand for asshole ? Stay home !!! We don’t won’t your dorky ass in Wrigleyville. You’re probably one of those nerds wearing a fanny pack to carry a sandwich from home so you don’t have to pay $6 for a hot dog. Loser

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Yikes. Tough crowd tonight.

    • Brett

      Geez. Take it down a notch.

    • Westbound Willie

      What’s wrong with a fanny pak and a baloney sandwich?

    • Tom A.

      I just don’t want the Cubs to move from Wrigley Field and am very tired of all of the politics and litigation indications from Mr. Tunney and the bar and rooftop owners. Sorry if you are offended. I hope you understand that the entire post was just an attempt at sarcasm.

  • Tennessee Cub

    That is bull crap. The rooftops are leaches mooching off the Cubs. They have ZERO rights in leaching off another business. I hope they fight it, then in 11 years, Tom totally blocks their view. They care about themselves, not the Cubs organization. Buy a ticket like everybody else has to in order to watch a game or turn your tv on.

    • Edwin

      Fans do buy tickets to sit on the rooftops. The Cubs get a % of the revenue.

      • Tennessee Cub

        A bull crap %. They should get it all, it is their product. What is it, like 17%….what a joke. The advertising and jumbo tron is for Wrigley and the Cubs, more revenue…better product. Obviously the rooftop % hasn’t helped.

    • roz

      “They have ZERO rights in leaching off another business.”

      Well technically they do if both parties agreed to it in a contract. I agree that it’s total bullishit, but if both parties agree to it in a contract, they have the right.

  • Die hard

    Wonder if the Rooftops are somehow organized in an association? If so then wonder if any one of them was doing something illegal that could taint the entire group under federal law such as RICO?…I am sure the Ricketts will look into any way to gain leverage in event of no deal because they aren’t going to roll over and play dead ….. This could get ugly going each way and let the dirt fly if there is dirt to dig up on all sides

  • Kevin

    Brett, thanks for updates even when the news isn’t so wonderful.

  • -mp

    Heck, time to stop all the drama and just build a new stadium, like Baltimore did with Camden Yards. If it’s in the suburbs, so be it.

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