It wouldn’t be a deal involving the Chicago Cubs if we hadn’t long passed the point where everyone had confirmed that a deal was done … only to hit unforeseen snags at the 11th hour.
It’s tough to say whether this is a “problem that might hold up getting an actual deal done” kind of problem, or a “problem that we already knew was a problem” kind of problem. But the Sun-Times, which originally reported that a deal between the Cubs, the City, and Alderman Tunney had essentially been reached, says there’s suddenly a “snag.”
The “snag,” of course, is that menacing rooftop press release we discussed on Friday. In short, the rooftops have been cut out of the negotiations, and are threatening to sue if any of their views are blocked by the outfield signage that results from the Cubs’ deal with the City and the Alderman. While that may very well be a legitimate position based on the contract the Cubs have with the rooftops, I don’t quite see how it could scuttle a deal being completed unless the deal was always preconditioned on rooftop approval – and whomever was representing the rooftop interests in the negotiations (Tunney) miscalculated the rooftops’ willingness to accept “some” blockage.
The rooftops, per the Sun-Times, are reportedly insisting upon an extension of the current agreement with the Cubs, which provides a 17% revenue share to the Cubs in exchange for the right to sell tickets and (according to the rooftops) to not have their views into Wrigley Field blocked through 2024. The Cubs, on the other hand, are apparently balking not only at the idea of an extension, but also at locking down a deal with the City and the Alderman until they know that the rooftops aren’t going to sue. As I discussed in greater detail on Friday, lawsuits bring with them uncertainty, and there is no guarantee that a lawsuit could not seriously impede the renovation process, regardless of what deal the Cubs have struck with the City and the Alderman.
A Tribune report also says that the rooftop problem arose yesterday with respect to the outfield signage, and is still being hashed out. We’ve known that the precise size and location of the JumboTron and other outfield signs had to be settled, but we didn’t know that those fine details could still blow things up. The tenor of all reports last week were that: a deal was done, the details are being hashed out, but the details can wait.
(If the rooftops have always had the capacity to derail a deal, and if the rooftops/outfield signage piece was always the stickiest aspect of any deal (it was), then why in the world would anyone believe and report that a deal was essentially done and would be announced on Monday until they knew the rooftops were on board? Or until they knew that the rooftops *didn’t* have the capacity to derail a deal? And if they don’t, then what are these new “snag” reports all about, Tribune and Sun-Times?)
So, I’m back to the question I posed at the outset. Is this a problem that’s going to sink the deal for now, or is it a problem that the Cubs will have to deal with over time, but a deal is still coming?
Only the parties involved know the answer, and I suppose we’ll find out tomorrow at the Cubs’ home opener. Given the reports of late last week, everyone is expecting a champaign-laden announcement tomorrow. Hopefully this “snag” business proves to be nothing more than spilled ink.