respect wrigleyAlthough there is no update just yet on the status of the Chicago Cubs’ ongoing negotiations with the owners of the buildings whose rooftops outline the outfield at Wrigley Field, there was something of potentially modest interest happening this weekend.

As you may or may not know, as part of an ongoing development process immediately next to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Cardinals have been creating (well, trying to create) a kind of commercial/shopping/restaurant-type area beyond left field called Ballpark Village. As part of that construction, the Cardinals have erected a rooftop seating area, across from the ballpark, which is integrated with both the commercial amenities of Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium, itself (right down to attendance – the rooftop seating is counted as part of the stadium attendance). It’s a way of extending the Cardinal experience outside the ballpark, adding additional revenue opportunities, and giving fans something “different” to do when they come out for a game.

Why do I mention this? Well, this weekend, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and Vice President of Stadium Operations Carl Rice checked out Ballpark Village, according to a Tribune report. Obviously the Cubs will be developing the area around Wrigley Field as part of the comprehensive development plan over the next half decade, and seeing how another organization is doing something similar makes sense.

But a part of me couldn’t help but wonder about the possibilities for additional development around Wrigley. We know there will be a commercial area, including the plaza and the hotel, just west of the ballpark on the triangle property and across Clark Street. But imagine if the Cubs could somehow integrate the ballpark, itself, with a handful of rooftop buildings, similar to what Ballpark Village is becoming. That would allow the Cubs to add seating, commercial space, and fan amenities to Wrigley Field without actually expanding Wrigley’s teeny tiny footprint (something that will be pretty much impossible, beyond the outfield wall bump out that’s coming as part of the renovation). There always has to be caution to preserve Wrigley’s “neighborhood” feel, however.

This is all just a thought experiment in the possibilities, as we’ve not yet receive any indication that the Cubs are actually considering – for example – purchasing any of the rooftops to use in this way. But it is interesting to think about the integration possibilities, if that’s a route that ever became plausible.

For now, I’d imagine that’s nothing more than a far away vision, if it’s being considered at all. The Cubs simply need to get some kind of agreement in place with the rooftops – an agreement that the rooftops won’t sue to shut down construction when it begins, primarily – so that the renovation can get underway as soon as this season ends. Then we can start thinking about all of the additional possibilities.

  • MightyBear

    I can’t remember if I asked this or not but is there a restriction on the rooftops building the bleachers on top of their buildings? Can’t they increase the height of their bleachers so the can see over the jumbotron and signage? If the Cubs helped defer some of this cost, couldn’t that be a simple solution? Not sure if this has been asked and answered.

    • cubsluver22

      That to me sounds more of an engineering question than a legality

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      I could be completely wrong (Brett please correct me if I am), but I believe that there is a limit on the height that the bleachers can be.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I believe that’s correct – and I believe that height was adjusted some years back to specifically account for some changes that were made after the two sides fought about the bleacher expansion.

        That’s strictly an “if I remember correctly” response. Not sure if it could be done again.

        • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

          Wasn’t the height issue also part of the community arguing about the hotel? I thought there was a lot of gnashing of teeth over the height of any building.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Good memory. Yes, there was some fighting about that.

            • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

              Funny things is I’m writing a post about memory loss so I’m happy I still have some… now where is my flippin keys and wallet? Why did I come in the kitchen?

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Also, your glasses are on the top of your head

    • DarthHater

      Just give them a private blimp.

    • JulioZuleta

      I believe every rooftop is built to 79 feet above the ground. That’s not a coincidence. At 80 feet, buildings are subjected to high rise regulations (Need elevators, fire escapes, taxes can go up…)

    • ssckelley

      Just put a few of these on the rooftops:


      • ClevelandCubsFan

        I’m not a lawyer, but if I were one, I’d be arguing that bleachers on top of roofs are not structural but are more like the spire on Sears Tower–it really doesn’t count.

        • ssckelley

          Build one of these lifts big enough to hold everyone and that will take care of the problem.

          Extra entertainment value on windy days at no extra charge. :D

  • bnile1


    I have a hypothetical question. With you knowledge of the financial picture. Would it be theoretically possible for the Rickets non-cub entities to “buy out” the roof tops, and do the type of developments you are describing. And if so, would those revenues not be subject to revenue sharing?? Obviously those would be going to the Rickets and not to the Cubs, but is there anything in the agreement that would prevent that? Is there anything that would prevent the Cubs from expanding and doing the type of leveraged buy out of the roof tops that We saw done with the Cubs?? Are these type of negotations possibly the reason there has not been and agreement yet??

    • cubsluver22

      I’ve read that avenue has been crossed and the owners that are willing to sell want astronomical figures. Can’t remember where I read that.

      • Hebner The Gravedigger

        Determining the value of CRE is a relatively easy and standardized process. Getting the sellers to recognize and accept logic is another matter.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Really fascinating question, and unfortunately there are some key components that I cannot address.

      Using related entities to avoid revenue sharing sure sounds like it’s something that’s going on a lot around baseball.

      • Chicago4Life

        I would say that once this contract is up with the rooftops, the Cubs will have more leverage with the rooftops to purchase. They likely won’t be attempting this until that time, but I think they are going to eventually buy up the rooftops and get lots of sanctions on height lifted when they do.

        • ssckelley

          I agree, those buildings will come down in value considerably once the contract is over.

  • Sandberg

    Doesn’t it seem like eventually this is going to have to go to court? The Cubs can’t be held prisoner by this for much longer. If it does, I hope the Cubs put the screws to the rooftops and drain them of as much money as possible.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    This is a great example of how sometimes doing nothing, is far worse than doing the wrong thing.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      I’m not sure we’re there yet. But we do seem to be getting closer.

      • CubbiesOHCubbies

        What’s the old saying? It’s better to ask for forgiveness afterwards than permission before…..

  • bahlgren342

    I don’t see why they don’t just build a new park if they plan on spending 500 million. Wrigley is 100 years old, how long do they expect it to last without major structural damage happening? Spending 500 million now seems silly if they end up having to relocate anyway sometime in the future. I love Wrigley but the park just doesn’t bring the same fun and features within the park that a lot of other mlb stadiums do. Plus with all the landmark restrictions I don’t see how much they can do with spending all that money.

    I think if they built a new park, they can play like ten games a year at Wrigley and make a fortune on tickets at those games

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