Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Mayor and Alderman Want Cubs to Start Work, City May Be Pushing Rooftops

respect wrigleyAs you know, City Council has now re-approved the comprehensive Wrigley Field renovation and development plan, pursuant to a handful of “tweaks” to the original plan, approved back in July. But, also as you know, the Cubs have not actually started work on the bulk of the renovation because they don’t want to put shovels in the ground only to be slapped with a lawsuit from the rooftop owners who aren’t down with the planned outfield signage (which is helping pay for the renovation). The Cubs want some kind of agreement in place with the rooftops before they start writing checks and digging ground.

Well, Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney, who’ve “helped” push the renovation package through City Council over the expeditious last eight months, now say they want to see the Cubs getting to work.

“[The Cubs] need to get started, and I was clear and unambiguous with the ownership about that even prior to today’s City Council actions,” Mayor Emanuel said of the renovation this week, per the Tribune.

Tunney’s message was similar: “I emphasize that the Cubs need to start to work as soon as possible. I think this is the time that we’ve exhausted some of the patience of my colleagues, certainly my neighborhood groups.”

For the Cubs’ part, they did – thankfully – offer a kinda-sorta update on the state of discussions with the rooftops, courtesy of General Counsel Mike Lufrano. “We are excited to have the opportunity to move forward, and we’re anxious to start work,” Cubs Vice President Mike Lufrano said after Wednesday’s votes. “We know there are a couple of issues that we’re trying to work through with the rooftops, and we’ve had good discussions,” Lufrano said, per the Tribune. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to reach a conclusion soon and get in the ground and start working.”

It’s not a deal, but at least there was a comment there. Interestingly, the rooftops declined to make a comment on City Council’s approval, which could suggest that discussions are indeed reaching a point where public comment is not necessary or advisable. Or it could suggest that the rooftops are not all fighting together on this thing anymore, given that only a couple rooftops are actually affected by the troublesome right field see-through sign. Hopefully it just means that something is close.

To that end, Dan Bernstein reported yesterday (in a tweet, and on the radio) that, although the Mayor and the City are publicly pushing the Cubs to get started, they are privately also pushing the rooftops to stand down and make a deal. Given that the Cubs’ leverage in this situation has never made much sense (“Agree not to sue us for doing that thing that you don’t want us to do, or else we’ll … um … do that thing that you don’t want us to do?”), it always seemed like it was designed to be an elbow to the ribs of the City/Alderman: if you want us to start this feather in your cap, get those rooftops to back down. Maybe that’s now what’s happening.

(An aside from Bernstein, after the renovation discussion: he’s been told that the Cubs want to increase the number of night games even further because the baseball guys do buy the argument that having more day games than any other team is a competitive disadvantage. I’ve said it for years: day baseball is a cool concept, but when you’re asking Cubs players to constantly set, re-set, and re-set again their body clocks, unlike every other team in baseball, you’re asking for them to wear down later in the season in a way that other teams will not.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

54 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Mayor and Alderman Want Cubs to Start Work, City May Be Pushing Rooftops”

  1. MichiganGoat

    Wow Tunney is on the Cubs side now? I wonder what he’s got from the Cubs or is no longer getting from the rooftops.

    1. Hookers or Cake

      Tunney sounds more like “Hurry up and build it all, so everyone can sue.”

      One nice thing about Chicago politics is that when you get on the good side of the goon squad, shit will get done.

  2. Jon

    Thank God on more night games! Day baseball, especially during the week, is garbage.

    1. brickhouse

      It will also help the Cubs negotiate a bigger tv deal if there are more night games

  3. CubFan Paul

    According to Levine, the Cubs have already bought the construction supplies and have companies on standby (radio).

    The outfield revenue and new signage is too much additional revenue to not install this winter, so it’ll get done.

  4. Spriggs

    I understand the threat of a lawsuit and all that, but it seems almost implausible to me how the Cubs got themselves into a position where they are handcuffed by the rooftop owners. It just seems so embarrassing for the Cubs and so typical… nothing goes right. I fear that the TV/broadcast deal will wind up being even more puzzling and disappointing than this has been. When will a slam dunk ever be a slam dunk for the Cubs?

    1. Jon

      The rooftops have a binding contract with the Cubs that protects their views.

      They have no incentive to waive this agreement or “promise not to sue” or help the Cubs in any way. The only thing that will get this done is Rham flexing his guns.

      1. BenRoethig

        They have a binding agreement, but if their enforcement of that contract force the Cubs into a new stadium, they have a legally binding view of nothing.

        1. BenRoethig

          You’re going to have those with the least obstructive views start turning on the others.

        2. Jon

          That’s great, but the Cubs threw that leverage out the window long ago.

    2. CubFan Paul

      “the TV/broadcast deal will wind up being even more puzzling and disappointing”

      I could see them making out well: 5 year deal, about $1MM per game for the 70ish available. I don’t think the Cubs are asking for the moon (Dodger $$) til 2020.

    3. JulioZuleta

      I’m quite confident that the TV deal is going to be pretty huge. Theo loves to speak in generalities/not tip his hand too much…When he did the Comcast interview with Kaplan last week, I’ve never seen him speak so candidly and confidently about something as he did about the prospects of the TV deal. I think it’s going to be pretty huge.

      1. Spriggs

        I hope you’re right. You should be right. But it just seems that things start out like a slam dunk… then something happens and things drag on and end up different. Happened here in Mesa with the new spring training complex – drug on for 2 years, the Wrigley renovation, certain trades, and with the sale of the team itself. Just to name a few recent things.

      2. cubsfan08

        As a consumer – one of the only/main things keeping me from “cutting the chord” from the cable company is sporting events. Other than that most everything else can be seen using things such as netflix, Roku, etc. Not to get into the pro’s and cons of those type of devices – but live events are what immediately eliminates that “option” for me.

        I would think the cable providers realize this and thats one of the many reasons these TV deals are so huge. Also its probably one of the only things on TV that viewers actually sit through the commercials for.

        1. dumbledoresacubsfan

          I know with the Apple TV, you can pay the annual fee to have the MLB package, the ESPN package, the MLS package, the NBA package, and/or the NHL package. I don’t think they have an NFL one–but eventually paying for all of those packages surpasses having cable.

          I have a feeling the future for me will be Apple TV and the MLB package and I’ll be done with it. *this plan exists as long as I am not in black-out territory.

          1. clark addison

            Same here. If the Cubs go off WGN, I’ll sign up with MLB to get the games in San Diego. Until then, it doesn’t make sense to me to pay full price for the 80 or so games that aren’t on WGN, MLB, Fox, or ESPN.

  5. 1060Ivy

    Anyone aware if building permits have been requested or posted by Cubs?

    I more likely to believe the Levine report if permit process has commenced

  6. Sacko

    This is just been to silly watching at a little market roof tops stopping a unbelievable huge market Cubs and Stadium. Crazy, The Counsel should have done something a long time ago.

  7. ColoCubFan

    Kind of ballsy of the bigwigs in city hall to push the Cubs to get started when they wouldn’t lift a finger to help financially. That’s what’s holding the whole thing up from the start was $$$.

  8. Sacko

    Get Capone in here to fix this overnight.

  9. sect209row15

    At the season ticket event last week I took photos of pallets of bricks beneath the bleachers. Hardly enough for the walls. This might be where the bad information is coming from. Consrtuction guys I talked to said the big job this offseason is replacing rusted beams and removing asbestos. He actually said “enviornmental” work. I was given a tour of the park (again) and the new offices. There are beams and bricks but not enough for the new construction.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “the big job this offseason is replacing rusted beams and removing asbestos”

      They do that every year …Of course they wouldn’t have the renovation equipment there yet when they’re saying something else.

  10. Adam

    As a home-owner in the neighborhood, I support whatever the Cubs need to do to improve Wrigley and the organization in general. I knew what I was getting into when I bought here. I also understand that the Cubs staying around and the opening of new businesses in the neighborhood only helps my property value. Glad that Tunney is finally figuring that out.

  11. BD

    Too bad the deal wasn’t getting pushed through this summer, so that they could have been working all offseason. Thanks for the help!

  12. itzscott

    Not a lawyer here, but I’m thinking that since the city approved the signage and the other changes, the rooftop owners would need to sue the city before they sued Ricketts, no?

    In essence, Ricketts is not breaking any law or ordinance by proceeding with the plans in place.

    At this point I’d have to say that it actually IS Ricketts dragging his feet on this and it has nothing to do with the rooftop owners suing him.

    Old saying… “Go fight City Hall”. Good luck with that!

    1. bbmoney

      I don’t think so. I don’t think the city’s approval has anything to do with the legal contract between the rooftops and the cubs. If the Cubs have separate legal agreements related to this they need to take care of those, they aren’t the City’s problem.

      1. itzscott

        So if you owned an apartment building on a one-way street and some of the renters had it put in their lease that the street had to remain one-way for the duration of their lease but the city changed the zoning at some point and made the street a two-way street….. could those renters sue the building owner?

        A legal eagle poster would be welcome here.

        1. bbmoney

          That’s not really the same thing at all. The building owner has no control over what the city does with streets. It’s absolutely within the Cubs control to not put up signs that ‘obstruct’ the rooftops view.

          It’d be more like you have a backyard swimming pool and you want to have the sun shine on it. So you enter into a legal agreement with your neighbor and pay him $250 a month for 20 years to not put a 2nd story on his house. Just because the city says he can doesn’t mean you’d have to sue the city first if he breaks that contract.

  13. Die hard

    Breaking news? Cubs and Rooftoppers settle by extension with more revenue to Rooftoppers and City to adjust property taxes

    1. JB88

      I actually think this is what we’ll eventually see. A 5-year extension with a greater percentage of the take staying with those buildings affected by the signage. That seems to be this ownership’s MO—appease the masses.

  14. abe

    I think the cubs can use day games as a advantage. If the away team is playing a game Thursday night than has to fly to Chicago. They will get in late and not want to play so early. It will be a easy game for the Cubs to win. I remember it happened with the Mets (played Thursday night and came in late to chi town..). All of the radio guys here in New York were not mad at the Mets for not even trying, but at the Cubs for playing day games. I wonder if we can get 5-10 Wins likes this..

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      One example with an ad hoc explanation by the announcers hardly counters the overwhelming data and testimony by ballplayers that day games hurt the Cubs. Getting up early one day does not really throw people off. What throws people off are inconsistent schedules: shifting from week-to-week exacerbates (and possibly causes) sleep disorders, and leads to general running down of a person. Historically, Cubs players show significantly greater drop-offs in September than do players from other teams. Many players who played on the Cubs and on other teams have attested that it’s simply a much more draining schedule to keep.

      At any rate, if the Cubs were picking up 5-10 wins a year from this, then they would stand out as having unusually good home-records relative to their road records. They don’t.

  15. Fastball

    Maybe the Mayor should send the property appraiser out to look at these rooftop owners properites. A little unannounced site survey. He comes back with a tax assessment which is out of this world on those properties. Something along the lines of 5x the current valuation. Then the Mayor leverages that against them to either cooperate or the tax man comith and the tax man takeath away. Big government can make those folks life a living hell if they want to flex their muscle. Then the owners have to decide how much money they have to fight the city in court over that whole thing. It’s been time for these boys to play hardball for a while.

  16. Blackhawks1963

    Tom Ricketts needs to take the bull by the horns and demonstrate leadership on this issue. Not be his typical milquetoast self who gets streamrolled. As somebody who is in the commercial construction business as an executive I can tell you its a farce to think much construction work can be done between now and April 1st. In the City of Chicago it still takes a long time to get the construction permits pulled, order raw materials, schedule subcontractors and crews, etc. The earliest meaningful work can begin is the start of next offseason. They could start on the hotel of course.

  17. Fastball

    I hate the thought of having to hang some big ass signs at Wrigley Field in the dead of winter.

  18. Edwin

    I’m worried that the outfield signs might block my view of the rooftops.

    1. C. Steadman

      hahaha thats pretty funny

    2. Patrick W.

      Awesome. You win the day, and it’s early.

  19. OCCubFan

    ‘Tunney’s message was similar: ”I emphasize that the Cubs need to start to work as soon as possible. I think this is the time that we’ve exhausted some of the patience of my colleagues, certainly my neighborhood groups.”’

    This is an excellent working definition of the word “Chutzpah.”

  20. Edwin

    Other possible solution: The Cubs install a 2nd Jumbotron on the other side of the outfield signs, facing the rooftops. It could be like the Aorangi Terrace.

  21. You got bats, we got Wood. Travis Wood.

    Well we have about $0.53 to spend this offseason so I hope they spend it wisely!

  22. Fastball

    Wondering about the TV contracts. Why wouldn’t FOX just come in and work a deal on the CSN contract. Do a buyout on that contract and then take the WGN contract that is at term. If I was Ricketts I would tell them to take the Radio piece of the business as well. Bundle it all in one nice contract. Ricketts has a minor share in the CSN so he ought to be able to make that happen. Then he would have all his media business co-termed for X years. He get’s his TV money much faster. His only sticky point is FOX won’t have as much margin in the deal because of the CSN business they would have to buyout. But that is on FOX. They could use CSN for the Production and TV Broadcast Feeds for the Wrigley games at Wrigley. FOX could outsource the local broadcast operations back to CSN. I don’t know about all of this. It seems like FOX should be able to do a deal that gets Ricketts flush and this organization can start spending $$ where it needs to.

  23. md8232

    Can the City seize the buildings thru eminent domain? More tax revenue = for the greater good after all.

    1. Spriggs

      Just as they will eventually sieze your pensions, 401Ks, and IRA accounts — all for the greater good. After all, you got tax breaks from your 401K deferrals and IRA contributions, so it will soon be pay back time – to the great community. Time for “fairness”. The govt. is getting extremely desperate for revenues.

  24. cubfanincardinalland

    I have yet to hear a clear description of what the impact would be with the left field jumbotron. Will that block any rooftops view?

  25. auggie55

    When this all started I was behind the Cubs, but now because they’ve been dragging their feet and doing nothing I’ve changed sides. Look it was that moron Crane Kenney who reached that agreement with the rooftop owners that lasts until 2013. If the Cubs don’t want to honor it, don’t let the door hit them in their ass when they leave Wrigley Field. Do you really think for one minute the Cubs will draw the crowds they do at a new stadium with the half-assed team they’ve put together?!! The Cubs should put up a smaller jumbotron or just wait until 2013. They are acting like a spoiled brat child. The city just went to the trouble of passing an ordinance allowing the Cubs to play more night games. The season hasn’t even started and the Cubs want more night games! And they want to be able to sell beer in the parking lot before games, but yet they can’t start construction. As far as I’m concerned the Cubs can go to hell on that idea.

    1. Chef Brian

      Someone tell Grandpa to go back to bed.

    2. Fishin Phil

      Pssst…… auggie, I don’t mean to be a trouble maker, but 2013 will be over in a couple of weeks.

  26. jmc

    seriously what is the roof top experience?does it mainly center around the baseball or the food and drink?

    1. cubsfan08

      Food and Drink – been a couple times. Once for a Bachelor Party. Its really good for groups as its tough to get a block of 10-20 tickets to a game. All you can drink beer and food. Watch a few innings of the game (can kind of see whats going on) and then you get bored and hungry and head to the floor below and its basically a sports bar. We sat there and ate and watched the game on the TV. Felt like a sports bar.

      Its an easy and cheaper way to get a large group of people to go to a “game” Can’t imagine going there with anything less than like 8 people though.

  27. jmc

    thank you

  28. illycat

    auggie, looks like it will be a short, short wait, since 2014 is 19 days away. The only side I’m on is the fans side and a jumbo-tron, more restrooms, wider concourses and additional exits and entrances will add to the enjoyment of watching ballgames at Wrigley. Hell with the rooftop owners, who stole the Cubs product and profited from it for years and now they are crying crocodile tears, give me a break Can’t wait to drink a dozen or so beers in the parking lot and then rip down Clark Street. i also agree with the mayor that it is time for Ricketts to spend cash and put shovels in the dirt and then spend more money and get big league ballplayers on the field. Finally you seem to think that the Cubs wouldn’t draw away from Wrigleyville, well I’ve got a few pennies say otherwise. Build a look alike Wrigley Field in Rosemont for instance, with loads of parking, public transportation nearby and next to O’Hare where out of towner’s could arrive, have dinner, ballgame and fly home the same day. No matter where the Cubs play they will outdraw that tax payer funded team on the south-side by a million or more bodies per year.

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