respect wrigleyYesterday, the Chicago Cubs demonstrated another mock-up sign in right field, designed to emulate what the (presumably) imminent Budweiser sign will look like once erected. The demonstration, which used the words “Wrigley Field” for the sign, offered the rooftops outlining the outfield at Wrigley another opportunity to see how their views would be impacted by the sign, which has been approved by the City of Chicago. The Cubs and the rooftops have a revenue-sharing agreement through 2023, which the rooftops claim provides them with the right to unobstructed views into the park.

How did the rooftops react to the mock-up? Not well.

Per multiple reports (examples: Sun-Times, DNAinfo), a rooftop spokesperson said the mock-up blocked views, and if the final sign blocks views in the same way, legal action is forthcoming. For the Cubs’ part, VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green told the Sun-Times that, although the rooftops wouldn’t have the “same” views they had before, all rooftops would still have a view into Wrigley Field. Now that the Cubs have a sponsor in Budweiser for the sign, Green said, they plan to move forward with it. It could be up as soon as next season.

So, how about the obstruction? Is it really as bad as the rooftops’ bristling makes it sound?

There is a particular picture making the rounds that purports to demonstrate just how awful the sign would make views for the rooftops. This is the picture (appears in the Sun-Times piece, the DNAinfo piece with no source credited):

That’s a pretty significant obstruction, yes? Well, hold on. I am a little suspicious of this picture (not its authenticity, but its utility) for a variety of reasons.

First, it’s pretty obvious that the sign isn’t actually set at the time the picture was snapped. Just look how high off of the back of the patio the sign is at that point – what is that, 10 feet too high? And the words “Wrigley” and “Field” are hanging, at an angle, offset awkwardly. This is not a finished product. Second, it appears that the sign is not set back 15 additional feet closer (and thus lower) to the rooftop building, as it would be when construction bumping out the outfield wall was completed. Third, we don’t know which rooftop this shot is coming from, and what impact it would have on other rooftops besides this one particular rooftop. Fourth, the picture is limited in scope and is fixed in a particular location, amplifying the “blocking” feel.

Finally, and most notably, we don’t know where on the rooftop building the picture was taken from – is it the very top? Is it through a lower-level window? Look at this picture of the rooftops over the right field wall and tell me where you think that original picture of the new sign was taken from. I have an extremely hard time believing that the picture emanated from the rooftop seats, as opposed to a lower-level in the building (where obstructed views should be much less of an issue).

Everyone seems to agree that there is some obstruction from the sign. But I am wondering if perhaps this particular picture – the only one making the rounds from the rooftop perspective – is being circulated by certain interested parties because it makes things look as direly awful as they can possibly look. Should the originator of the photo – whomever that may be – care to correct me, I’d be happy to make any appropriate corrections. Heck, we’d all love as much information about the picture as you’d be willing to share.

We’ve got plenty of gamesmanship going on already with respect to the meaning of the words “block,” “obstruct,” and “cannot,” so it’s only to be expected that there would be some gamesmanship being played with the “evidence” of these things. It’s a shame that we can’t just get a clear picture, so to speak, if what is actually going on, and what realities the parties are actually dealing with.

For the Cubs’ part, they have once again suggested that they are entitled to put up the right field sign (the JumboTron in left field remains undiscussed in this context for some reason, which could be because everyone knows it will take longer to get in place (and it’s a ‘we’ll get there when we get there’ situation’), or because everyone knows it won’t significantly block views … hopefully it’s that one) because the City approved it. Without the rooftop contract in hand, I can’t speculate on the precise language (which is always the key), but it sure sounds like the Cubs are moving forward in any case.

Something I still don’t quite yet understand: the Cubs are unwilling to start construction on the renovation project until they know the rooftops won’t sue to block the signs … but the Cubs are willing to put up the very sign that could trigger that litigation? Are we simply approaching the point where the Cubs are going to call the rooftops out and force the litigation issue? Then, once that’s resolved, the renovation can proceed? I guess it’s conceivable, but I seriously hope it doesn’t get to that point. Litigation, as I’ve said, is unpredictable and slow. Big money cases like this are often measured in years, not months, and I don’t think anyone wants to see the renovation finally get underway in 2016.

So, I circle back to where I always land: hopefully the parties can work something out, whether it’s some kind of new agreement, a purchase agreement, or some kind of politically-forced stand-down by the rooftops. The sooner the Cubs get their signage in place, the sooner new revenue starts rolling in. And the sooner the meat of the renovation gets underway. And the sooner fans can see the fruits of that revenue and renovation on the field and in the stands.

  • dshea

    I don’t understand why the Cubs had to have a sign like this in right field. They are going to be blocking some views to some extent. Why not just put it below the new jumbotron?

  • jh03

    Want to see something awesome? Go check out Sahadev’s twitter.

    • On The Farm

      RE: Almora?

      • jh03

        Yes sir.

        • On The Farm

          Might as well start him in AA, the sooner the better.

          • Jason Powers

            A novel idea:
            Almora -CF
            Baez SS
            Bryant -3B
            Alcantara -2B
            Vogelbach – 1B
            Soler -RF

            all in AA for a month. Just to see how awesome they work together.

            If we find a prospect catcher we like, and a LF, we’d be quite on our way.

            Alcantara/Baez move on to AAA most likely…but I can hope.

            • On The Farm

              Couple that with the rotation being Johnson, Black, Pineyro, Wells, and maybe Edwards too. Deadly AA team.

              • Jason Powers

                And it reflects the future we hope to bring.

                The LA Dodgers brought up their infield like that in the 1970s: Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey.

                • jj

                  Go look at the Dodgers minors in that era – in 1970 their AAA had Buckner (1b-OF), Bobby Valentine (ss), Garvey (3b), Lopes (of), Russell (of), Von Joshua, and a pitching staff including Doyle Alexander, Charlie Hough, and Geoff Zahn managed by Tommy Lasorda.

          • jh03

            I wouldn’t mind seeing him pushed a bit. Who knows what they’ll do though.

            • On The Farm

              Yeah, AA might be a tad aggressive, but I hope an earlier rather than late promotion to AA comes to fruition. I don’t think his track will be as aggressive as Baez, but I hope he gets the same amount of PAs as Baez got at AA this season.

              • cheryl

                Wow. What a lineup11

    • ssckelley

      It would have been neat to see the Cubs hitters getting hits off of Vidal Nuno, one of the top prospects in the Yankees organization who made it to the majors this season. Almora is actually in a little bit of a slump. I think he is like 0 for his last 8 or something.

  • Jason Powers

    Just pay these jokers off. I understand its “their” neighborhood. They contracted for unobstructed views. But if I was being told (via legal threats) how to market (add signs) and where they can and can’t be, I’d say, “what is it gonna take for me to make you go away?”

    Then do the calculus. If they are greedy beyond belief, I go ahead and roll the legal dice. Smear campaign begin. Take no prisoners. Nuke their positions.

    1) Disruption of revenues in the hopes of getting a competitive team (TV, Advert, etc)
    2) Safety issues from the non-renovated park (as the interior is set for revamp) can’t just do it piece meal – disruptive and would not meet the long-term objective
    3) Annoyance to players who want to just win
    4) Get the city on your side (even if you lose surrounding Wrigleyville)
    5) Private enterprise being thwarted by people who gained plenty of benefits over the years, and income, without contributing to the teams’ payrolls or improvement
    6) New revenues (hotels and bars) being held up because the old guard can’t or won’t compete

    Rooftops, you have amongst the best real estate in America, and you are screwing it up by becoming the bad guys. Unable to accept progress. Contracts are renegotiated. Things can be worked out.

    But I’d be pretty close to no longer negotiating, and just turn them into the money grubbers they are. Cause that’s actually at the heart: money on both sides.

    You can be on the rooftop, watch hi-def, drink and eat, and party, and have not a care about seeing shit 600+ feet from Home Plate. It’s ambiance, not just the view unobstructed.


    • Matt

      This, times… a lot.

    • Benjamin

      Could they run a campaign where one can trade a rooftop seat for a seat in the stadium for a small fee? Or free on games with low attendance?

  • CubbieBubba

    so whose view was the triangle building blocking? this all just seems like an excuse not to spend money renovating the stadium this year. oh, you wont give me one thing that is unreasonable for a number of reasons? then im going home!

  • cheryl

    Reasons to leave:
    If 75% of cubs fans live outside Chicago and there’s reasonable transportation elsewhere, why stay in Chicago?
    If the city taxes are more than would be the case in another location, why stay in Chicago?
    If Wrigley Field is outmoded and renovations are blocked, why stay in Chicago?
    If the owner of the cubs uses his own money for renovations and renovations, why sat in Chicago?
    Reasons to stay”
    Chicago is a major hub with transportation and television access.
    Wrigley is well-known and a landmark.
    I’m sure there are other reasons for leaving or staying but the negatives of Wrigley seem to outweigh the positives.

    • Funn Dave

      “Why stay in Chicago?” is not a reason to leave. It is a rationalization for moving. The only ones of your four “reasons to leave” that could be interpreted as reasons to leave are #s 2 and 3. And # 3 isn’t really accurate anyway, since renovations are not blocked; only the obstructive signage is. So the only one of those points that’s truly a reason to leave is #2. Personally, I don’t see tax reductions as anywhere near a convincing reason to leave the historic ballpark the Cubs have played for so long.

      • mjhurdle

        “And # 3 isn’t really accurate anyway, since renovations are not blocked; only the obstructive signage is.”

        It could be accurate seeing as how the message from the Cubs is that, without the revenue from the signage and the removal of the threat to sue, they can’t/won’t pay for the renovations.
        Obviously it depends on how hard a stance they take on that.

        • Funn Dave

          Good point. Blocking the signage could be described as indirectly blocking the renovations. But if that’s the only thing holding them up, there are other places for signs and other ways to make advertising revenue.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            Blocking the signage blocks the revenue that blacks the renovation. There are not equivolent places for signs that generate the type of revenue needed. It isn’t as if Theo is trying to avoid other revenue options, just trying to capitalize on basic revenue generators that pretty much all other stadiums have nowadays.

            • Eternal Pessimist

              “blocks the renovation”…having a lot of trouble with typing lately.

            • Funn Dave

              There may not be an equivalent place for such a sign, but there are other places for a larger quantity of smaller signs, or a few medium-sized signs. There are also other ways to increase revenue inside the stadium, e.g. putting ads on the TV screens in the concessions areas, broadcasting more ads over the intercom, etc. Hell, they could even plaster the bathrooms with signs. It just seems silly to stake the entire renovation on one sign, especially if that sign breaks a contract that was previously in place.

              • mjhurdle

                all of that may be true, but they won’t get anywhere near the amount of money for small concourse signs or tv ads and bathrooms flyer ads as they would with a giant Budweiser sign that is seen from 90% of the angles of a TV viewing audience or a jumbotron displaying ads.

      • cheryl

        You have some good points. Maybe most of my points are rationalizations to leave. But the Dodgers are a case in point. They were identified with Brooklyn. Many didn’t see them leaving New York, nor did they see the Giants relocating and there are several fans who say the cubs shouldn’t move. And in some ways I’d hate to see the Cubs move, but what alternatives do they have?
        Let’s say the proposed signage is completely eliminated, I’m not sure what the status is on the proposed hotel. The Cubs are part of a neighborhood for better or worse and they new or should have known that going in. But renovation is badly needed. So so they stay with the status quo? I don’t think they can.

        • Funn Dave

          Good points about the Dodgers and Giants. I just think the Cubs would lose a greater number of fans by moving now, when they’re one of an increasingly small number of teams playing at such an old, historic ballpark.

          And the future projects such as the hotel and other renovations is something to think about as well. The Cubs’ strategy at this point seems to be to just wait and see, but that doesn’t seem very proactive to me. I just don’t see how they could possibly pay for a whole new ballpark if they can’t even pay for renovations without getting revenue from the Budweiser sign.

    • Voice of Reason

      You just can’t put out reasons on a website why they should stay or go and then try to justify them.

      The Ricketts are BUSINESS PEOPLE! They didn’t just demand that Wrigley Field be part of purchasing the Cubs for no reason at all. They had PROFESSIONAL studies done by PROFESSIONAL people. Those studies revealed that the Ricketts needed to make Wrigley part of the purchase because it’s an integral part of owning the franchise. It means lots and lots and lots and lots of money to them!

      That said, the Ricketts are not leaving, no matter what people can think of quickly as reasons to leave and then type the reasons onto some website.

      • Scotti

        A factual correction here. Ricketts didn’t demand anything about Wrigley. There was no other legitimate buyer for Wrigley. The state of Illinois had interest but that was shut down very quickly because of the politics of it at the time. Ultimately Zell decided that the team and the park could generate more together than apart (Wrigley Field is simply worthless without the team–especially given that the Landmark status means you can’t raze it and sell the property). The Ricketts would have LOVED to have had a situation like the White Sox where the team reaps the rewards (naming rights, ad revenue, etc.) and has zero liability (rehabbing costs, inability to sell the damn thing when it IS time to move, etc.).

        Look, someday the team will move out of Wrigley just like all teams eventually move. Many teams simply build their new park in their old parking lot and then take down the old place and build new parking facilities. Rebuilding within Wrigleyville just isn’t feasible. Rehabbing IS but only if certain people get out of the way and allow it to happen.

        Is the time to move now? Only if the leaches continue to try to kill the development. It isn’t just the rooftops, either. Of course the rooftops benefit by NOT having signage and luxury boxes in Wrigley. But the local bars and restaurants also benefit by not having, well, bars and restaurants (such as Alderman Tom Tunney’s Ann Sather just 0.6 miles from Wrigley) built within Wrigley’s walls (as well as limited night games). The longer all of those parties can stall, the longer they leach more money off of a product that they contribute nothing to.

        So all of these other parties are fine with Tom Ricketts paying his own money for Wrigley being rehabbed as long as there are NO money generating amenities added to the park. How mighty nice of them.

        Finally, the issue of some dude on the Internet saying that no one on the Internet is allowed to discuss the Ricketts family moving the team–even though TR has hinted at it himself–is rich with irony. If the team finds that the delays in rehabbing Wrigley are too much, then they will move. If the team ultimately finds the constraints placed upon them interfere with profits too much, then they will move. The family obviously prefers to stay at Wrigley but they also have a decades long history of taking very risky moves–gambling their entire fortune numerous times–to make their product better. If they are pushed to move, then they will. Deal with it. People on the Internet will talk about it. Deal with it.

  • The Dude

    Looks like the mock-up pic was taken while the setup was still in progress to make the blockage look as bad as possible, but when I look at the pic, I’m guessing the final placement would still ruin this particular rooftop’s view. The letters look bigger than I imagined, and at this point I’m content on going to Cubs games just to half watch a game and drink some beer for the next eight years because this renovation will be on hold. I can empithize with both sides’ frustration.

    • santos toupe

      the cubs are not the rooftops owners product. if their view is obstructed tuff shit, buy your own team.

  • Barroof

    I hate Budweiser. Why not just put an arch over the scoreboard or a welcome to St. louis sign along Clark St. ? Why not work with the rooftop owners and put larger signs attached o their buildings above them ?

    • hansman

      this certainly seems excessive

      • On The Farm

        Depends, will get us closer to being as good as St. Louis? If it blesses our team with voodoo magic I say do it.

    • mjhurdle

      So every bar in the world that serves any Imbev products is now somehow an extension of STL?

      • On The Farm

        And if I drink the product does it make me an extension of St. Louis also? How can I be two places at once?

      • Benjamin

        There’s a Budweiser sign at Fenway too.

    • The Dude

      Wouldn’t it say welcome to Belgium?

      • Wilbur

        Yes, but in Flemish …

    • Benjamin

      Because that would continue to tie the business of the Cubs to the rooftops, which is not in the long term interest of the team.

  • Matt

    I have never seen a company with so much leverage struggle so much against a weaker party.

    • Voice of Reason

      The Rickett’s do not want it to play out as a David vs Goliath in the media. It may appear to many that they are struggling against a weaker party, but they ain’t stupid! The Ricketts are playing their cards really well. There are a lot of different entities here that the Ricketts KNEW they were going to have to kiss up too, including the rooftop owners and the stupid city councilmen who think they are important.

      Is it taking longer than they expected? Yes, but they knew that there were going to be several hills to climb.

      It’s all part of doing business!

  • Davy Crockett

    I’m sick of this rooftop extortion shit. Ricketts needs to grow a pair of testicles and deliver the battle to their doorsteps. No more mister nice guy…take a flame thrower to these sob’s in court.

    [ed. – Racist garbage deleted.]

    They only brought two cars !!

    • Hee Seop Chode

      That’s…..extremely racist.

    • Tony_S

      Brett, why haven’t you deleted this yet?

      • Cubbie Blues

        Because he hasn’t seen it yet.

  • jj

    Good issue spotting Brett, you could have been a good lawyer

  • caryatid62

    Boston Red Sox Attendance:

    2013 (1st place, World Series Winner): 2.83 million
    2012 (last place): 3.043 million

    The value of a destination ballpark is that it makes attendance much less variable dependent upon team success. That’s one of the (many) reasons why they’re not going to ever move.

    • Funn Dave

      Great point. If the Cubs were playing the way they have been anywhere but Wrigley, the drop in attendance would be much worse.

      • Pat

        Actual attendance may be the same, but ticket sales would be way down. I think people massively underestimate how many of the season tickets are sold to corporations based in the city that would not necessarily renew at a different location.

    • Scotti

      “Boston Red Sox Attendance”

      The VAST majority of tickets sold are sold PRIOR to the season beginning. Meaning, the Red Sox’ sucky record 2012 set their 2013 ticket sales. Fans bought fewer in the off-season and it wasn’t until fans were certain that the team would be competitive (usually a couple months in), that fans started buying available tickets.

      Those 2012 ticket sales were sold after the 2011 season which, while it ended rough, still had a competitive team and a hope for a competitive 2012. Thus, the hypothesis that a “destination ballpark” is responsible for the Red Sox greater attendance in 2012 is simply wrong.

  • Tommy K

    It really pains me to see Ricketts, who holds all the cards in this situation, getting pushed around like he is. As much as a loath Donald Trump, Ricketts needs to get a little Donald Trump in him to deal with this situation. Trump would have figured out exactly what he wanted to do and then announced that either everyone was going to let him do exactly what he wanted or the Cubs would move out of the City. And he would have gotten exactly what he wanted. Granted what he wanted would have been stupid and likely bankrupted the Cubs, like encrusting the scoreboard with diamonds or something, but he would have gotten to do it.

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