respect wrigleyAt the Cubs Convention this past weekend, Cubs officials took a surprisingly sharp tone with respect to the rooftops that have long been among the most significant hold-ups in the renovation of Wrigley Field. At the time, I wondered if it meant things weren’t going well in talks to have a deal in place so that the renovation could start … or if it meant things were going so well that the Cubs knew they had all of the leverage. The Cubs, themselves, said that recent discussions had been productive.

Maybe not anymore.

The Sun-Times today reports that discussions have fallen apart after a particularly contentious meeting yesterday, and after the rooftops today sued Marc Ganis, a former Tribune consultant, for comments he made last year about the Cubs/rooftops dispute. The Cubs are named in the lawsuit, according to the Sun-Times, albeit for now as a “discovery” party (i.e., the rooftops are saying they’re going to want to seek discovery from the Cubs*, not necessarily damages). It’s a little tricky to say precisely why this suit is happening right now, since there’s the obvious Cubs/rooftop/negotiation connection, but there’s also a statute of limitations that was going to run out as of yesterday, when the suit was filed.

*(Drawing on some past experience, when two parties are engaged in a financial negotiation (especially one that might lead to future litigation), one thing you’d love to be able to do is ask the other side for all of their internal financial documents. I’m not saying the rooftops don’t have a reason to sue Ganis for his comments – I’m not making any comment in either direction – but I could see a scenario where what the rooftops really want is information from the Cubs. Discovery from one case might help them if there is a future legal battle about the renovation, in total. In other words, the suit against Ganis could be the start of “the litigation” we’ve all been fearing. But, as I said: there was also the statute of limitations to consider. The rooftops could simply have been trying to protect their own rights.)

Apparently that negotiation breakdown yesterday, and the lawsuit today, has pushed the Cubs away from the negotiating table. You can, and should, read the Sun-Times piece for more details and context. It even sounds like the Cubs might now go ahead and put up the see-through advertising sign in right field (the one that was the most contentious), since they have City approval to do so. I can only assume the Cubs would be expecting a hostile reaction from the rooftops if they took that step.

In a statement released by the Cubs to the Sun-Times and to Greg Hinz at Crain’s, this could be ugly.

“We have worked hard to reach a resolution with our rooftop partners which would have helped preserve their views, including reducing the number, size and location of our signs,” a Cubs spokesman said in the statement. “Unfortunately, they opted yesterday to reject the proposal and file this lawsuit. Since our approvals last year, we have been anxious to get the Wrigley Field renovation started. Yesterday’s action will certainly force additional delays to our project.”


Now then. We’ll see how things actually proceed, because, while litigation can be lengthy, unpredictable, and expensive, it can also sometimes be the thing that pushes sides to actually work out an agreement.

Hopefully, the Cubs saying that the lawsuit will “certainly force additional delays” is more about applying public pressure than anything else. But, as I’ve said all along, however you feel about the parties or the issues, litigation was the one thing nobody wants.

I won’t pretend to be able to tell you what happens next until we get a little more information. I’m still waiting to review the suit for myself, and we’ll await a response from the rooftops, as well.

Great day, huh?

  • sleepy

    It’s becoming apparent that the rooftop owners have no intentions of allowing the Cubs to have their way with the renovations. They will use every tactic and legal maneuver they can to delay, postpone, or prevent the Cubs from doing why they most certainly must do if they have any realistic chance to become a competitive professional baseball organization going forward. If Ricketts really doesn’t want to move the team to the suburbs, then he needs a different strategy in dealing with the rooftops. Time to play hardball.

  • blublud

    These rooftop idiots are complete assholes. I don’t understand why the Cubs are even negotiating with these idiots. Put the signs and scoreboard up, no judge anywhere will make them take it down. These people made millions without any investment, and are still being greedy. Scum is the only word to describe them.

  • TimBlackwellsBeard

    Time to move and build a new ballpark. Let the roof top owners get half the rent they enjoy now.

  • md8232

    Find a loose piece of concrete somewhere in Wrigley and declare the stadium unsafe for play.
    Take all home game to Milwaukee until all needed repairs are complete.
    No revenue for bleachers, Chicago, or Illinois.
    Rinse & repeat.

  • wasssssup

    Brett. What would you do it you were Mr. Ricketts?

    • Required

      I know you said Brett but, I would sell the team to Mark Cuban. He has guts! Have you seen him on Shark Tank?

      • MattM

        Required AWESOME!!!!! The problem is that the owner Mafia known as the MLB commissioner will not allow that!

        Honestly, the fact that they allowed a whole family to buy the Cubs when the whole families worth is 1.4billion and the Cubs wound up costing 800 million! That’s a joke! CLearly Ricketts is in it for the wrong reasons! Cuban wanted to own the Cubs to own the Cubs not to make money. That’s the difference.

        The Ricketts are in this to ONLY make money and they have a cash cow right now. It’s a joke and Selig needs to be investigated himself! He’s so corrupt!

  • MattM

    HAHA! This is perfect! The reason the Cubs suck is because of the rooftop owners! The owners are the reason we didn’t sign Tanaka and will suck for the next 4 years now!

    • Required

      No but the rooftop owners are setting this renovation back. That pushes the revenue from the signage back too. Which pushes the amount we have to spend on players back.

  • MattM

    HAHA Required….. The Cubs PROFITED after all loans and players etc… were paid off last year 30 million dollars! That makes them the most profitable team in MLB. Not only that but they did it with ONLY 2.0-2.2 million in ticket sales! IF the Cubs actually spent some money and got to .500 that 2.2 would quickly get back up to 3 million and they would still profit! They DO NOT NEED THE SIGNAGE to field a competitive team. THis is just another story they are trying to sell people!

  • bmurph

    Enough !!! You have 5 or 6 people ( or entities) screwing with the Cubs, the city, and millions of fans. I love wrigley as much as the next guy, but if I was Ricketts I would tell the suburbs to give me their best offers! Build me a stadium, give me parking lots, etc.. Believe me , they would be throwing money at Ricketts The Cubs would have a state of the arts stadium ( what, no troughs? ) The rooftops can stare at zippo. Screw them !!! Put your 500 mil back in your pocket and let “wrigleyville” wither and die !

    • Required

      We can leave Clark at Wrigley. Instead of trying to come up with a new name.

    • jeff1969

      The Cubs should just move out of Wrigley already. This stuff is stupid. What is stopping them? Tradition? What tradition? A tradition of never having won a World Series at that dump? Moving to the suburbs wouldn’t hurt The Cubs at all. In fact it would probably be the best financial thing for them. Let Rahm, the Landmark people, the alderman, and the rooftop draculas turn the Wrigley Field L stop into a monument stop for what used to be.

  • jashicks30

    Time for Cubs to be done with Wrigley. For so many entities to have a say in how a business can make money as it sees fit is obscene. While other small and large market teams are signing monster TV deals, getting new stadiums, advertising and other revenue streams leaving one of the biggest franchises behind.

    Ricketts is a smart businessman and I am sure there is a plan B. But if I were owner I would have already asked the suburb cities offering for their offers to build a new stadium. I would start letting all of it leak to the media and give designs on the new stadium and let the people digest it and see what might be…sell it to the fans. Then see how the rooftop owners and city officials feel about that.

    As long as this has dragged out now, designs and details could have all been worked up waiting for a green light. If renovations are going to take up to 2-4 years to complete b/c of litigations and restrictions from the city then just build a new stadium it would take less time and be more profitable. Nobody says the Cubs can’t play a few games a year at Wrigley for nostalgia.

    Its time to move on from Wrigley and just pull the band-aid quickly…rather than slowly. It’s less painful for everyone.

  • arcola

    Put advertising on giant helium filled balloons and have the fans in the bleachers hold them. Barring to much wind this could block the rooftop views legally and make advertising dollars.

  • Tman

    This whole “move the Cubs” stuff is foolish.

    First of all, it’s a mistake to believe that moving the Cubs out of Wrigley would decimate the local economy. It would certainly hurt some bars, but keep in mind, the team only plays in town 80 days out of the year, that’s less than one out of four days. There are many businesses that actually get choked off from customers on game days. It’s a mixed bag at best.

    Wrigley Field has been on Clark and Addison for a 100 years and that neighborhood has been a dump for most of them up until the last couple decades. If it was the case that Wrigley Field made the neighborhood what it is now, it should have happened a long long time ago, and it should be happening now around every other ball park as well, but it isn’t.

    It is a complete accident that the neighborhood around Wrigley has improved over the last couple decades. Affluence in this city has been slowly expanding closer to Wrigley Field not because of it, but in spite of it. What goes along with this increasing affluence is more participation by residents in keeping the streets clean and safe making the neighborhood around Wrigley Field the world class tourist destination that it is. Yes, it’s those a–hole neighborhood residents that helps keep things in check. (Don’t mix the rooftop owners in with the residents)

    The neighborhood is more of an asset to the team than a lot of people here seem to believe, but I’m not surprised how many people feel the way they do. I think the new owners have been scapegoating and demonizing anyone who disagrees with anything they want to do and have been doing a disservice to the majority of the residents, who many here would be surprised to hear, that they not only support the park and the team, they love it!

    As far as I’m concerned, if the new owners are not happy with the neighborhood, fine take it to Rosemont. Everyone loves crappy public transportation, endless parking lots, and jet exhaust.

    Hey! It could be just like Citi Field!

  • Bret Epic

    Only 50 minutes or so left in the day. Just waiting and hoping there isn’t anymore bad news for the Cubs today.

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  • fortyonenorth

    Serious question: can someone explain what legal interest the rooftops have in the Cubs financial position? I don’t see how that matters since the Cubs get a cut of rooftop revenue and not vice versa.

    • DarthHater

      If Cubs’ financial information is relevant to the Ganis comments that form the basis of the lawsuit, or if that financial information is reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of other evidence that is relevant to those comments, then the plaintiffs would probably be permitted to obtain that financial information through discovery. But if inquiries into the Cubs’ finances are a pure fishing expedition that are not reasonably relevant to anything except a possible future lawsuit dealing with other issues, then the Cubs might be able to obtain a protective order from the court limiting the plaintiffs’ discovery requests.

  • Revery

    The real question is who the hell would want to see a ballgame from a rooftop when Wrigley is across the street? Buy a real ticket people…

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