According 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.]