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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.”

EFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffffff.

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?

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    You can’t make this stuff up….unbelievable.

  • When The Musics Over

    *Repeat post (more fitting in this thread)*

    Isn’t it about time to just pull the old scoreboard and put thew new jumbotron in centerfield? Wouldn’t that solve so many problems. If people can’t get over that old relic in the spirit of helping this team compete, I don’t get it.

    • Jason P

      I believe the current holdup is due to outfield signage in right more so than the jumbotron.

    • Jed Jam Band

      For the last time, that scoreboard has historical landmark status! It literally CANNOT be removed without a lengthy and very costly legal process.

      • When The Musics Over

        Isn’t putting up the scoreboard in left field going to cause a very lengthy and costly legal process?

  • Jason P

    #boycottrooftops

    • miggy80

      I’m with you on that. I also wonder what the atmosphere will be like between the Bleacher Bums and the rooftop fans. I wonder if die hard Cub fans will be willing to picket the Rooftops? Will fans heading to rooftops “hear it” from fans going to the stadium? I just hope no one buys rooftop tickets.

    • mr. mac

      Been boycotting the rooftops for years already.

  • Jon

    I’m sure Dupage County will offer up a nice parcel of land…it’s time…

  • conysdad

    I think I should just unplug from Cubs news until Opening Day. I can’t take this.

    • mr. mac

      Not sure opening day news will be much better.

  • CubFanBob

    Just kick me in the balls now ….

    Nothing comes easy as a Cub fan

    • smackafilieyo

      +1

    • Steve

      Or as Buzz Cut on Beavis and Butthead would say:

      “KICK ME IN THE JIMMY!!!!!!!!!”

  • David

    Also, Brett, it looks like the Cubs are going to put up their RF sign regardless of how the rooftops feel about it.

  • Diehardthefirst

    See my last posts arguing that Cubs should sue to force new MLB security measures on Rooftoppers which will level the playing field and result in settlement

  • TulaneCubs

    To me, this is much, much worse news than Tanaka signing with the Yankees.

    As well as I think the Cubs have handled the rebuild from the baseball side, what they’re doing with the business side is a complete disaster.

  • JB88

    Brett, if you get a copy of the lawsuit or it is posted online, can you hyperlink it? After reviewing the suit, I’ll pass along any information I can from an Illinois practioner/litigator’s perspective.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sure – just waiting for it to appear on the Clerk of Courts: http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/?section=CASEINFOPage&CASEINFOPage=2400

      • JB88

        I don’t know that the Clerk of Courts will automatically post it online (I caveat that comment by saying that they are moving toward more electronic filing, but most of the time the complaints and other documents relating to a case aren’t posted online).

        I’m thinking that Crane’s or DNAinfo will have a copy of the complaint at some point. If not them, then definitely Law360, Above the Law, or another legal publication.

  • hansman

    [img]http://www.paleopam.com/murphys-law-ecard.png[/img]

  • David

    Since I can’t edit my post:

    “That much was obvious Wednesday when the Cubs privately declared their intention to apply for a city permit to put up a 650-square-foot, see-through sign in right field that, the rooftop owners claim, will block their bird’s-eye view of the century-old stadium.

    The decision to take immediate advantage of a sign already authorized by the City Council was made after a stormy negotiating session Tuesday and after rooftop club owners filed a defamation lawsuit against a stadium financing consultant who once advised the Cubs’ prior owner, the Tribune Co.”

    http://www.suntimes.com/25113883-761/wrigley-field-deal-fell-apart-at-stormy-session-with-cubs-rooftop-owners.html

    • CubFan Paul

      jinx

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks – in my … frustration … I failed to finish my thought in one of the paragraphs.

    • JB88

      An interesting take-away from that article is that it was apparently Crane Kenney’s comments that angered the rooftops. I thought that Ricketts’ comments were equally inflammatory, but, putting that aside for the moment, what does Kenney actually offer the club? That guy seems to be awesome at pissing away the goodwill of the Cubs with everyone/anyone with whom he meets/works.

      If I were advising the Cubs, I would seriously consider telling them to move Kenney into another role or outside the organization entirely.

  • BD

    Never should have tried dealing with all of these variables, and found a place for a new stadium. Now they’ve wasted how much time? Incredible…

  • CubFan Paul

    What about the 650ft sign part?

    “the Cubs privately declared their intention to apply for a city permit to put up a 650-square-foot, see-through sign in right field…decision to take immediate advantage of a sign already authorized by the City Council was made after a stormy negotiating session Tuesday”

  • Noah_I

    I’d be curious if the Cubs could file suit seeking declaratory relief, at least on the rooftops ability to obtain an injunction… the rooftops could attempt to file suit to drag this out for years in the Cook County Circuit Court, and that’s not even including appeals, to try to get a better deal from the organization.

  • mlang

    Boycott rooftops

  • ssckelley

    Nothing like a swift kick to the ole nut sack twice in the same day.

  • mdavis

    honestly, start making appointments with DuPage, Rosemont, etc. It’s time. Make a replica of Wrigley for all I care, but it may be best to move, and sure, the rooftops can have their view of Wrigley Field all they want.

  • Elden14

    *sigh* Beer me….

  • Noah_I

    I’m not actually sure that the rooftops could get the internal financial documents from the Cubs. This is a defamation lawsuit that has not named the Cubs as a party, not a breach of contract or other suit where the Cubs’ overall finances are at issue or necessarily relevant. If the rooftops sought those documents, I would presume the Cubs would object on a whole host of grounds, and would have a good shot of succeeding at the motion to compel stage.

  • Edwin

    Well this is just a bummer, man.

  • Voice of Reason

    Maybe it’s time for the Cubbies to start entertaining an open ended contract with a baseball facility in the area where they can play their home games in 2014? Then, re-evaluate the situtation at the end of 2014 to either continue playing games there, return to Wrigley Field or build a new stadium somewhere else.

    Let these businesses and roof tops experience a season without any activity at 1060 West Addison. I’m sure it will get very dark and gloomy in that area if that were to happen! Or, let them come to their senses before that happens.

    The Cubs have been very diplomatic thus far. It might be time to push the envelope just a bit!

    • JB88

      It is an interesting idea, in theory, but I highly suspect that the Cubs were able to secure the “concessions” they received from the Landmark Commission and City Council precisely because they were going to continue to play their games at Wrigley during the renovation. I’d be awfully careful playing hardball on that sort of topic, particularly when playing away from Wrigley this year or next still doesn’t resolve the signage issue.

      The City giveth and the City taketh away …

    • kj1

      $200M saved on Tanaka and $500M saved on Wrigley renovation = $700M that could be spent on a NEW stadium.

  • Vic

    I like the boycott idea.

  • BenRoethig

    Then Ricketts needs to announce they are pulling the project and moving forward with Rosemont. Beth Murphy, have have watching the Illinois state baseball tournament.

  • ssckelley

    It is a damn good thing we finally have a mascot. Us Cub fans are going to be needing a few of these:

    [img]http://media.bizj.us/view/img/1753651/chicago-cubs-mascot-clark*304xx1326-886-108-86.jpg[/img]

  • rich

    Why can’t just get on with the rest of it ! Better still get the hell out of the city !

    • Edwin

      Moving could be a very costly thing. At this point, having a historic venue like Wrigley in a downtown setting is one of the biggest draws the Cubs have. Finding a site that works takes time, and building a whole new stadium takes even more time (and money). At this point, moving seems like a bit of a hollow threat on the Cubs part.

      • TommyK

        Why? Teams with less money than the Cubs get new stadiums. A suburb would probably put up a lot of the money, and the Cubs were already going to spend hundreds of millions on renovations. Yes Wrigley is a draw, but a new stadium is also a draw. Plus it comes with unlimited ads, ample parking, modern facilities . . . Moving should not just be a threat. They should start the process of moving.

        • Edwin

          Building a new park is going to cost around $600MM-$900MM. Maybe more. If the Cubs are willing to fund $500MM, they’d still need about $200MM-$400MM or greater from the suburd. That seems like a lot for a Suburb to support on their own, so either their taxes shoot through the roof, or they try to make it a county/state funded thing, which means there’s still going to be political issues to wade through.

          So once they find a site and secure their funding, then the Cubs can start breaking ground. Typically it takes 1.5-3 years for complettion after they break ground, at least looking at some of the more recent stadiums built according to Wikipedia.

          In the meantime, the Cubs are still stuck playing at Wrigley, or left looking for an alternate site to play games at for a couple seasons. Plus they’d need to figure out what to do with Wrigley after they move, since it’s still an asset they own, and they’re probably not too happy about taking a loss on it.

          All this is happening while they’re (hopefully) planning on increasing payroll due to starting to get a talented team on the field.

          • aaronb

            Also the Cubs would lose their “Historic destination” and “They sell out every game win or lose” aspects that keep them relevant.

  • JCubs79

    So are they going to build the sign and start the renovation anyway?

    • ssckelley

      Perhaps the revenue from the sign will cover any damages the rooftop owners ask for anyway in a lawsuit. If so, then why wait?

    • CubFan Paul

      Yeah I’m confused on the RF sign thing too..

  • cavemancubbie

    Time to move and turn Wrigleyville into a ghost town. Since Wrigley is a ‘landmark’, let the city pay to keep it standing. The Cubs need another revenue source, like parking for xxx number of cars at 25 bucks a pop.

  • dynamic442

    Why not let those rooftop owners have their view of Wrigley…. As a Cubs fan I think the real lucrative deal for the future of the franchise exists outside of Chicago.

  • GoCubsGo

    Don’t just threaten to do it, MOVE TO THE SUBURBS.

    If I spent almost 1 Billion (Dr. Evil face cause that never gets old amirite?) to buy a team, and had $500 of my own money to renovate the stadium and got any kind of BS ridiculous kickback from a corrupted city, moronic rooftop owners and a host of other things, I’d be gone. Move to Dupage County and I will feel a lot better about moving from my apartment in the city to the Suburbs and the Cubs will have a much better go of life and can tell the city to kiss their ass when they win a world series.

    • Voice of Reason

      gocubsgo:

      Wrigley Field is just as important to that franchise as the team itself.

      They are not moving.

      If it wasn’t that big of a deal then the Rickett’s wouldn’t have insisted that Wrigley be part of them buying the team or else they wouldn’t do it. They had many studies done on this.

      And, if they did move, what in the hell would they do with Wrigley Field? They own it.

      • BD

        They want to stay and fix up Wrigley, but nobody wants to let them. That is why they should move.

        Also- I think you’re overstating the importance of Wrigley. It is an awesome, historic stadium. But I wouldn’t care if the Cubs won the World Series on a little league field.

        • Voice of Reason

          It has nothing to do with where they win a World Series.

          It’s about the fan base and the attraction of Wrigley Field. You can say the fans will still come if they moved and it will be sustained over the years, BUT the Ricketts family did PROFESSIONAL STUDIES which revealed that Wrigley Field is just as important as buying the franchise.

          So, please don’t say the fans will follow where ever. The studies say differently!

          That’s why they are staying and that’s why they are being all nicey nice in dealing with the neighbors! They know they have to work this out cause they ain’t leaving!

        • Kyle

          No one will stop them from fixing up Wrigley.

          They’ll stop them from expanding it in specific ways

    • dynamic442

      Seems the real Cubs fans agree…. This team is so much more than historic Wrigley field… Chicago can keep the crappy beer soaked venue… Gimme 46,000 seats and ample parking in the burbs and I will follow!

      • Edwin

        Is there 46,000 seats and ample parking in the burbs, though?

        • Voice of Reason

          Not in the burbs, but they could play in the Cell for a season.

          Just work out the schedule with major league baseball. Cubs can’t be there when Sox are home… and if it’s a rare case where they are at home at same time, then one plays a day game and the other a night game.

          It can be done.

      • mr. mac

        I kind of agree with this. Is there another team that has this much drama on an almost daily basis that has next to nothing to do with actual baseball? It’s crazy.

      • BD

        A brand new stadium and you’re only adding 6,000 seats? Let’s go for as many as possible!

        • dynamic442

          Agreed… Cubs could fill the stands on way more than 46,000 if they are contenders year in and year out. I think Ricketts is letting his heart get in the way of a real bright future for Cubs baseball

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