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respect wrigleyAlthough the Chicago Cubs and the rooftop owners may be at something of any impasse in their negotiations to get the Wrigley Field renovation underway, it sounds like the Mayor’s Office is getting three lingering issues out the way for the Cubs.

First, there has long been a question of how the City of Chicago would be compensated for the Cubs taking public land to bump out the outfield walls at Wrigley as part of the renovation project. Doing so will allow the Cubs to increase Wrigley’s footprint (without having to move), and is expected to decrease the impact of the new outfield signs on the visibility into the park from the neighboring rooftops.

According to a Sun-Times report, that compensation has been determined as something akin to “time served.” That is to say that the Cubs will not be paying anything additional for that property, beyond the $4.75 million they’ve already committed to local community projects. That decision comes from the Mayor’s Office, and word of it comes from a “top mayoral aide.”

Second, the Mayor will push for a tweak to the night game ordinance that increased the Cubs’ total night game allotment to a maximum of 46 games in a given season. The original version of the ordinance gave the City the right to control rescheduling of rainouts, and when certain national games could be night events. The Cubs opposed that language immediately, and it sounds like they’ll be getting their way.

Finally, the Cubs will be getting their street fairs. Remember them? Long-discussed (and then quietly not discussed) as one of the revenue-generating pillars of the renovation, the Cubs would like to be able to hold street festivals on Sheffield Avenue during weekend home games. They will now get that right, between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

These items are expected to be introduced and approved at the October 16 City Council meeting. For more details on all of this, check out the Sun-Times report.

Interestingly, in return for these items, it sounds like the Mayor’s Office expects that the Cubs will begin construction in earnest by November, although the anonymous source indicated that the Mayor’s Office wants the Cubs and the rooftops to work out their differences, too. Recall, the Cubs have resisted doing any major construction work until they know for certain that the rooftops will not sue when construction begins, and until they know what will happen to their outfield rights when the rooftop contract ends in 2024.

It always made you wonder: the Cubs wanted assurances from the rooftops that they wouldn’t sue once construction began, but the Cubs may not have had any meaningful leverage to hold over the rooftops (“Don’t sue when we put up those outfield signs you hate, or else, um, we … won’t put them up?”). The Cubs had, at one time, threatened to go ahead and put up the outfield signs anyway, but nothing seemed to come after that suggestion. So, what was the whole dance about? Well, it’s fair to now wonder whether the Cubs were actually hoping someone else – like, say, the Mayor’s Office? – would put pressure on the rooftops not to sue, and would clear other paths for the Cubs to begin renovations.

Whether that’s true or it has been/will be successful are things I don’t know. Indeed, these movements by the Mayor’s Office could be wholly unrelated.

What we know, according to the Sun-Times report, is that the Cubs now have certainty that they will owe no additional compensation to the City, their issues with the night game ordinance, as passed, will be fixed, and they will get their street fairs.

So, will there be renovation action by November? The Mayoral source’s comment notwithstanding, the Cubs – by way of VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green – still say no, not until they get the assurances they need from the rooftops. That hasn’t happened yet, and we haven’t even hear about much in the way of negotiations in weeks.

Things could get interesting, politically, once again in November.

  • MightyBear

    I don’t see why the Cubs can’t go ahead and work on the Clubhouses and the batting cages. I don’t see where the Video/Rooftop issue has to be resolved before they do these renovations. There should be enough additional revenue to get the Clubhouses fixed. I don’t see the hold up here.

    • Funn Dave

      Sure would be nice. That’s the only part of the renovations I’m looking forward to.

      • Eternal pessemist

        As stated many times before, as soon as the cubs sink millions (tens ir hundreds of) into the facilities, they lose the leverage of moving. The less movement the get from the rooftops, the more likely (though small) that the might be the Rosemont Cubs.

        • Eternal pessemist

          Arrgghh…spellcheck!

    • Matt

      It makes me wonder if the Cubs are still holding onto the “move” card, on the (very) off-chance that they can’t get things done in the manners they deem necessary.

      If it’s not this, then I agree with you — I don’t know why there’s a wait.

      • Professor Snarks

        No good businessman would ever limit his options. I don’t think Ricketts wants to move, but at some point, he may have to consider it.

    • Professor Snarks

      MightyBear,I don’t want to spend over $200 million to fix the clubhouses with the possibility, however remote, that the rooftops win a lawsuit that stops everything else.The everything else is where the revenue comes from.

      It’s sort of like finishing your basement, only to find out you have to sell your house. Sure, the house value may go up, but you won’t recoup everything you spent. Plus, the market for 100 year old baseball stadiums is rather limited.

    • Pat

      They can’t start because they have even applied for any permits yet.

  • cubzforlife

    Think about it. You’re going to dig up the field for the clubhouse and not do the walls at the same time? Has to be a planning and cost issue.

    • 1060Ivy

      The clubhouse and batting cages provide no revenue so why should anyone expect Ricketts to improve them?

      Oh yeah, the enhancements might lead to improve performance of the team which may increase revenue but why the heck should fans be concerned with the on-field product.

  • itzscott

    The city is the one who holds all the cards since they are the ones who can exercise Eminent Domain not only on Wrigley, but also on all the buildings on Waveland and Sheffield. I wouldn’t doubt that Emanuel waved that in front of the rooftop owners or some version, like maybe threatening to condemn the property.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      I don’t see how Eminent Domain applies to Wrigley, but the government’s been stealing private property for hundreds of years so who knows.

    • http://It'searly Mike F

      That is equally unreasonable and would be subject to test. I don’t think any court anywhere would allow eminent domain to be used in this instance. While governments as determined by the SC of the US can, there are parameters and this situation doesn’t meet it.

      I think getting rooftop owners to give up their right to sue, will require their pound of flesh. It’s to come extent a reasoned risk the business have to be willing to take. The remedy is to move.

      • frank

        I agree–though there have been recent cases where this Supreme Court has allowed eminent domain to be used to transfer land from one private owner to another for the purpose of economic development.

  • Kevin

    Leverage? I believe all the Cubs need to do is assure the rooftop owners that the renovation will all be done without playing elsewhere in exchange for the rooftop owners signing a piece of paper saying they agree not to sue. One or two seasons away from Wrigley Field would put extreme financial pressure on the RT owners. Beyond that, the Cubs leverage is minimal. So if I’m a RT owner do I call the Cubs bluff and take my chances that I possibly own a much less valuable piece of property?

    • CubFan Paul

      That doesn’t solve the blocked views problem that the rooftop owners are whining about

  • Kevin

    If the Cubs played elsewhere during the renovation (Cellular or Miller Park) the RT owners would have more serious issues.

  • JB88

    My sneaking suspicion is that this eventually gets done and includes the Cubs adding a few years to the length of the current revenue sharing program with the rooftops.

  • Kevin

    You may be right but Ricketts does not want to extend the contract, period. Look at it this way, Ricketts is the dog, the RT owners is the dog’s tail, there is no way Ricketts will allow the tail to wag the dog.

    • JB88

      I would have thought that before these negotiations occurred, but Ricketts has sought to appease the masses at every turn. I think eventually the same will hold true with the rooftops.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Put a large screen on the backside of what ever they put up for the bleachers to watch.
    Same party, same atmosphere at least on one side of the street.

  • Kevin

    ” but Ricketts has sought to appease the masses at every turn.”

    Ricketts has played his cards to appease everyone, I agree with that comment but only conditionally. If the RT owners tried to appease the Cubs without a threat to sue then this whole issue is mute. But if you are cornered with the threat of a law suit “The appease card” is no longer in the equation.

  • jon

    Regarding “assurances not to sue”

    Is this just a nice verbal statement the Cubs are looking for? Or something more binding, say such signed agreement(“we promise not to sue”)?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That has not been fully sussed out.

  • Blackhawks1963

    If I’m the Ricketts then I don’t sink a dime into the Wrigley renovation until I have full agreement in place that those idiot rooftop owners won’t sue over the details of the build out. It just makes good business sense. The LAST thing the Cubs need is for a judge to slap an injunction halting construction progress once it starts.

    • Kevin

      I agree 100%, don’t put a dime in the planned renovation. I would, however, install the well needed lights in the outfield. Sure, it may block some views, but the outfield lights were needed a long time ago. I’d like to hear the RT owners fight that.

  • Aaron

    Theo…don’t just say it…do it.

    We’re at a critical point in our building process, where our very best prospects are soon going to be young big league players, and it’s absolutely imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players to come up here and continue to learn and develop and thrive at the big league level, and win ultimately.

    Would a new new clubhouse, weight room and training facilities create a better environment and conditions for young players and veterans to better thrive at the big league level? Of course it would. Once again…talk it cheap. If they believe what they say, the owners and FO will find a way to make it happen. It would show players and potential players not yet on the roster that the Cubs do take player development, training and the overall “Cubs Way” player and coaching experience seriously.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Come on guys, use your heads. Read the writing on the wall. This is classic cover your ass, which is what politicians do at all cost. Now rahm and the boys can say, not our fault, we delivered.
    My guy downtown says the cubs are quite pissed. Day late and a dollar short, after making them tread water for a year on these issues. Now like magic.
    Says the cubs will wait until season ticket sales season is over, then start the process with dupage. Deal with rooftops a pipe dream. He has been on the money for a year now.

  • Lakecountypackerfan

    I say it again. There is plenty of land available in Arlington Heights or Lake County Illinois. Move them there. Leave the dump called wrigley and let the rooftops suffer for stealing the cubs product all these years.

  • 5412

    HI,

    If the only thing holding up things is the roof top owners, they will have tremendous pressure put on them by the city and fans. They have to be idiots because a winner on the field makes more money for them too as they can raise their prices.

    regards,
    5412

    • Kevin

      I would think the RT owners are already feeling the pressure. The question is, how much pressure can they take before they break? I would not want my name associated with a group of RT owners who may force the Cubs away from Wrigley Field.

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