Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Cubs Apply for Sign Permit (UPDATE: Rooftops Respond)

respect wrigleyTaking the step that they intimated last week when discussions with the rooftops broke down, the Chicago Cubs have filed for a permit to install the right field advertising sign, according to Greg Hinz. As you may recall, the City has approved the 650-foot, see-through sign in right field, and the Cubs have secured a sponsorship relationship with Budweiser for that sign. So, in that sense, the Cubs are simply doing what was expected.

In other sense, though, this could be the start of a nasty fight with the rooftops, who have already filed suit on a related matter, and could pull the trigger on another legal battle. Throughout the renovation approval process, the rooftops have held the threat of litigation over the Cubs’ head should the team obstruct any of their views with outfield signage. For their part, the Cubs say they need the outfield signage to, in part, generate revenue for the overall renovation.

What happens now? No one outside the walls of the involved parties knows for sure. Maybe the rooftops immediately file suit. Maybe they wait until the sign actually goes up. Maybe this was expected, and nothing changes, and the sides keep on negotiating (Danny Ecker says a meeting is scheduled this week between the rooftops and the Cubs). Maybe the Cubs are trying to grab some leverage? Maybe they’re trying to force the rooftops to act first?

I won’t pretend to know. I can only hope that this is a step in getting things resolved. Somehow.

UPDATE: The rooftops have issued a statement, via spokesman Ryan McLaughlin:

“This is an unfortunate turn of events because our hope was to find a solution to this matter. Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs. We have instructed our legal team to proceed accordingly.”

Now, to be certain, this doesn’t mean the rooftops will immediately sue (though they could). “Proceeding accordingly” could mean many things, including continued negotiating (now framed by legal posturing). Speaking from experience, the lawyers get involved in these matters looooong before a court actually gets involved. If the rooftops do sue (or seek arbitration, if the contract contains a mandatory arbitration provision), I could see this going one of two ways: (1) a protracted legal battle that delays the renovation for a very long time (more than a year would not be out of the question); or (2) a nudge to get everyone to work out a settlement. The good news is that courts really do try very hard to get two sides to settle in a case like this, and it wouldn’t seem like there would be a ton of discovery (which can really slow things down). Hopefully a lawsuit, if it comes, simply pushes the sides to get something done.

I know. I keep saying “hope.” Silly me.

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

120 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Cubs Apply for Sign Permit (UPDATE: Rooftops Respond)”

  1. NorthSideIrish

    David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 9m
    **EXCLUSIVE** A Look Inside the Chicago Cubs Contract With the Rooftops. A MUST READ. http://bit.ly/1f4NdUa

    1. mjhurdle

      really good read there.
      I knew that it would come down to a matter of word definitions, but I thought the rooftops would have had a stronger argument than what the lawyers he talked to said they do.

  2. Johnny Chess

    It’s all so obvious … the signs are to keep the balls off Waveland ave. Evil Shrewd or cost saving Genius

  3. diamonddon

    Can the Cubs break the rooftop contract if they move the stadium location to a different site? I hate to say it, but it might be time for the Cubs to seriously consider moving and building a Wrigley Field replica in the burbs somewhere.

  4. NorthSideIrish

    I am a little confused because when Kaplan first got the contract on Friday, he said “it looks pretty good for the rooftops.” Not sure if he changed his mind after closer reading or if there is more that he hasn’t posted yet.

    1. DarthHater

      He showed the contract to lawyers and they did not agree with his initial reading.

      1. Brocktoon


  5. Blackhawks1963

    It is simple. The Cubs have been enormously patient and accommodative of the Wrigleyville special interests. But is clear that the rooftop owners don’t want anything to alter their views into the ballpark and for the Cubs to extend and sweeten their current arrangement. The Ricketts allowed themselves to get eaten alive in this process, delaying the renovation at least two years. But now I believe Joe Ricketts has stepped in to say enough is enough and time to bury these clown in a see of multi million dollar corporate law firms. Why do I think Joe stepped in? Because a former roommate of mine and partner at a major international law firm with office in Chicago who shall go nameless told me as such this afternoon. Let’s just say the Ricketts are about to unleash a long over due shock and destruction campaign against the association of rooftop owners. To quote my friend (who is not involved on this legal matter) those poor dumb bastards will be finished by the end of the year. The Ricketts have told the 3 law firms directly retained on this matter that an”success fee” in addition to their billable hour deal shall be the prize.

    Buckle up, because this is gonna be great to watch unfold.

    1. brainiac

      longtime residents are not special interests. external business interests are not residents.

      1. DarthHater

        The Cubs have been in that neighborhood a lot longer than any of the RTOs.

        1. brainiac

          the cubs, not the ricketts. the ricketts are from the north burbs, which might as well be canada, or st. louis.

      2. Blackhawks1963

        Beth Murphy chiming in. Crikey. These rooftop obstructionists owe their financial being to the presence of a ballpark that has been in existence for 100 years plus. Wrigleyville is Rogers Park at best without the Cubs.

        God how I will enjoy the battle finally being taken to their doorsteps. Bury these clowns.

    2. MichiganGoat

      It’s never simple when giant law firms are getting involved. It might not be difficult but it’s not easy. It’s hours of work and dissecting a word like EXPANSION.

  6. blublud

    I thought the rooftops didn’t advertise here. Why is the a 3639Wrigleyrooftop.com ad on the top of my page. God, I hate those bastards.

  7. MichiganGoat

    We will all hate a very simple word in a few weeks:


  8. woody

    That clause that the cubs wouldn’t be finacially liable after 8 years combined with the terms of the contract making government approved expansion seems pretty viable to me. Everybody is saying Ricketts is stupid, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. After all he got the approvals. Why weren’t the rooftops fighting that tooth and nail to nip it in the bud? The fact that the expansion brings much needed revenues to the city is the last nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned. The arbitrator might throw the rooftops a finacial bone if it goes that far, but money talks and bullshit walks.

    1. Brocktoon

      “Why weren’t the rooftops fighting that tooth and nail to nip it in the bud?”

      Nobody said Beth Murphy wasn’t stupid.

    2. MichiganGoat

      He also got city council to use the word EXPANSION in thier public statements… that was not accidental.

  9. Ballgame17

    NorthSideIrish thanks a TON for that article from Kaplan. Completely opened my eyes to the whole situation. Based on the numerous attorneys opinions (assuming they’re unbiased), I personally feel a lot more confident that the Cubs have the upper-hand. Blackhawks1963, I hope you’re friend is correct. It may be sad, but seeing the rooftop owners doing the walk of shame would give me such joy. Totally agree that the surrounding bars/rooftops owe everything to Wrigley/the Cubs. The Cubs attendance has been down the last few years and the bars have been suffering mightily. Egg on your face, beat it!!!!

  10. Bret Epic

    After reading this, I feel cautiously optimistic that things will work in favor of the Cubs. I definitely feel better after reading the article, considering that they seemingly done everything right so far.

  11. Tom A.

    As much as I do not think litigation is the best answer for these types of disputes, it now appears necessary for this dispute. The rooftop owners are desperate and desperate people do desperate things. Our courts can help protect what is good not for such greedy rooftop owners, but what is good for the good people of Chicago.

    I hope that any litigation / arbitration quickly gets us to what is best for the good people of Chicago.

  12. Diehardthefirst

    Ask yourself this question – why did Ricketts allow Zell to retain 5% if it wasn’t to allow Zell to make the partnership argument ? Collusion anyone? I don’t know if IRS will see it that way but it sure seems that way

    1. MichiganGoat

      Ask and moved on just as the IRS has done but keep in beating that horse might still be alive.


  13. Illini

    If you want to see how the business community is hurt by a major entity leaving the area. all you have to do is look at Children’s Hospital leaving Fullerton and Lincoln. Bars, restaurants and other businesses have closed or are in trouble because of the Drs., nurses, and parents not being there.

    Wrigleyville would be hurt. I want them to stay were they are but the local businesses need to understand they are there because of the Cubs and not the other way around.

  14. Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Finally, a Peek at the Contract, and Some Analysis | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] the bubbling backdrop of failed negotiations, one lawsuit, and the Cubs filing for a permit to erect an outfield sign at the very heart of the dispute, Kaplan secured a copy of the agreement […]

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