It’s a solution that is frequently thrown out there, discussed a little, and then generally discarded.
The solution is the Ricketts Family buying the rooftop buildings that outline Wrigley Field, and the “problem” is the current rooftop owners’ lingering threat of a lawsuit should the Cubs erect outfield signage as part of the Wrigley renovation that blocks their views into the ballpark. The solution is discarded not because it isn’t legitimate – indeed, I think everyone agrees that it could make some sense – but instead because there are so many variables going into whether it’s doable, whether it’s advisable, and whether it’s even being considered by the parties.
Well, according to a report from WTTW in Chicago, we can put a checkmark by the last one. WTTW reports that the Ricketts Family is currently entertaining discussions about the possibility of buying some of the rooftops. Those rooftops, according to WTTW, have come to the Ricketts with an intention to sell, but the two sides aren’t close to an agreement.
Could those be the “discussions” that Mayor Rahm Emanuel assured reporters that the Cubs and rooftops were engaging in?
A Ricketts/rooftop purchase agreement certainly makes sense. On the rooftops’ side, you’ve got an asset with something akin to a depreciation schedule – when your contract with the Cubs ends in 2024, the Cubs can block you out of existence, decreasing the value of your property by a tremendous amount. Selling for the right price before that date comes could be a savvy move. On the Ricketts’ side, you’ve got a desire to own a business with which you’ve been competing for sales, and a desire to ensure there is no blockage-related litigation. If I remember correctly, the Ricketts already have an ownership interest in at least one of the rooftops. They see value there.
That a purchase makes sense hardly ends the discussion. There is the matter of price (the Ricketts will argue that the buildings will soon be worth little more than residential, whereas the rooftops would argue that they’d be far more valuable than that to the Ricketts Family – who blinks first?). And the matter of ownership interest level. And the matter of which specific rooftops to buy. And the matter of what happens when buying Rooftops A and B in tandem makes sense to the Ricketts, but only Rooftop A is interested in selling.
Like I said at the outset: a purchase agreement involving some of the rooftops is a plausible solution to whatever renovation impasse exists. But is it really doable and advisable, given whatever is going on behind the scenes? Well, they wouldn’t call it behind the scenes if we knew.