respect wrigleyPerhaps there is a tone-deafness that can be perceived only outside of the community in which the galling statements occur. Or perhaps, as outsiders – to the city or the neighborhood or the political process – we are unable to understand the forces animating the ostensibly odd things that people say.

Alderman Tom Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, and who has been an extremely visible voice in the excruciating process to allow the Ricketts Family to fund the renovation of Wrigley and a surrounding development project, wants everyone to know that he’s now pushing the Cubs to get the renovation underway. You read that correctly: the project that ground to a screeching halt over the course of 2013 in large part because of political intransigence is now being kicked in the ass by the most prominently involved member of that political machine.

Tunney spoke with the Sun-Times, criticizing the Cubs for failing to start the renovations that City Council approved earlier this year. Tunney believes the Cubs should have already secured the necessary permits and started work, something the Cubs have indicated they are not yet ready to do. The hold-up is the Cubs’ fear that the rooftop owners will sue – potentially shutting down construction and injecting the uncertainty (and time-suck) that necessarily accompanies a lawsuit – as soon as they begin constructing outfield signage.

Tunney responded that any dispute between the Cubs and the rooftops is none of his concern, and the Cubs should nevertheless start renovating Wrigley. This is, of course, disingenuous,┬ábecause Tunney knows that the money to finance the renovation and development project – no public dollars, Alderman – is coming predominantly from the erection of two large outfield signs. Tunney also knows that those signs have been the subject of a long-standing dispute between the Cubs and the rooftop owners – the very owners on whose behalf Tunney worked so hard throughout the sparring in the run-up to the renovation deal in the first place.

The temerity Tunney shows in taking such a public position would be shocking to me if he hadn’t already shown it before.

In that regard, then, nothing here is a surprise. It is technically correct that construction at Wrigley Field could begin at any time. There is nothing stopping the Cubs, the rooftops frequently point out, from working on the seating bowl, the roof, the bathrooms, the interior amenities, the player facilities, etc. The rooftops would not sue to stop the Cubs from putting in a new set of batting cages. But the Ricketts Family is understandably concerned about writing huge construction checks before they know for certain that their revenue-generating signs will not be blocked legally.

Between Tunney’s remarks, and a report last week that the Mayor’s Office is assisting with some of the Cubs’ lingering concerns, at least attention on the renovation – and the stalling thereof – is ratcheting back up. The Cubs have communicated in various ways, however, that they do not expect to begin any substantial portion of the renovations this offseason, instead focusing on basic structural/electrical work. The hope was that new player facilities – badly needed player facilities – would be in place for the 2014 season.

  • SalukiHawk

    I think it’s funny how little regard Tunney has for his ward’s largest employer.

    • Blackhawks1963

      His world is all about re-election campaign funds, cinammon rolls and [ed. – Seriously?]. He doesn’t have time to fit in what makes most strategic sense for the Chicago Cubs.

  • Andy

    Brett, let me ask your opinion on this as a former lawyer. Could Tunney be pushing the Cubs to start construction, knowing they want to start with the sign/ video board, and enabling the rooftop owners to sue once work begins and stop the entire process?

    Since he has hindered the process every step of the way, this seems like the exact kind of diabolical pain in the ass type move he would make.

    • Brett

      To the thrust of your question, nah. Tunney isn’t doing the Cubs any favors, but I definitely don’t think he’s affirmatively out to get them. He knows where a huge chunk of his neighborhood bread is buttered.

      To the ancillary point, I remain uncertain that a lawsuit could actually stop the signs from going up (as opposed to merely resulting in damages for breach of contract – at risk for the rooftop owners is money, so money could theoretically make them whole). It’s been a long time since I’ve been lawyering, so I’m not going to pretend to have a surefire answer (heck, when I was practicing, I knew well enough to know that you don’t give a surefire answer even then). I suspect there are risks involved that we can’t quite project, and that’s what the Cubs fear.

      • Andy

        Thanks. It seems as though Tunney has been affirmatively trying to do anything he can to help the rooftops, so if he can get the signs stopped or get the rooftops some extra cash on a breech suit, then he’d be all for it, which is why I asked.

        • Brett

          To that point, they wouldn’t get extra cash – just the money they project to lose with the signs in place (arguably, not much, given only partial blockage, declining attendance, and term of contract).

          But, as I said, I can’t be 100% certain that damages would be the only remedy.

          • Ron

            Brett, “rooftop settlement…declining attendence” so the cubs stinking the psat two years could actually save them money in a settlement with the rooftops? Intersting, it seems it would be in the best interest of the Cubs to “settle” with the rooftops right before they become good again. Interesting.

            • Die hard

              That’s not quite what he meant– I find ur musings nothing more than trolling though they almost are funny-please post seriously only as there is no place for such comments on this educated site

      • wilbur

        The risks involved, not the least of which is what happens to the ad rate for the signs when the cubs are sued by the rooftops. What company is going to want to insert themselves into that crevice? Once a suit is filed isn’t it safe to expect that the going rate will go way down and advertisers may not be lining up to have their sign there? The Ricketts aren’t just delaying construction to avod a legal battle, they are also implementing a marketing strategy.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Ace, there is something weird going on with this post now. It isn’t replying to or permalinking the 2nd page.

    • Brett

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s correctable for this post (the referenced miggy thing down there is the cause – not what miggy did, but what preceded it). Real shame, given the quality conversation.

  • jim

    Why start construction when ur thinking of selling?

    • http://gameagame Brandon

      Or when there is a chance they still might move. Why start renovations if they will not let you finish?

  • 1ski

    Man made it to the other side of that muck. wow, l thought someone said there would be my lil ponies or something to that effect on this side, lol… l’ll go back in the war zone and check.

  • walterj

    After reading this entire thread , I thought I was in BCB .

  • Die hard

    Rooftops are the tea party Republicans and Tunney their Boehner and Ricketts is Obama and City Council is Congress and Rahm is Rahm

    • Ron

      That is wrong on so many levels and should not be here. I usually dont entertain most of your musings and even consider some humerous. But please dont bring this here.

      • Die hard

        Your right — politics and religion should be off limits–
        mea culpa–

  • Die hard

    There is legal concept known as anticipatory breach– it is akin to saying other guy is ready willing and able to break the contract and has taken preliminary steps to do so– maybe Ricketts is afraid to take this step to avoid being slapped with a lawsuit

  • TOOT

    Bears would have lost this game under Lovie, guaranteed.