It’s over. The Cubs win. If there were a legally appropriate comparison, the Cubs just walked it off in the 4th inning.
A federal judge has dismissed the last remaining lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs over the expansion of Wrigley Field and the signage in the outfield. As you may recall, the court’s decision was heavily telegraphed back in early April when the judge’s opinion denying the two rooftops’ request for an injunction included a lengthy heads up to the rooftops that their arguments lacked merit. Here’s what I wrote then:
The rooftops lost their request for a TRO, and today, the court also denied their request for a preliminary injunction. You can read the court’s decision here (h/t to Crain’s Danny Ecker for the link to the document), which is extremely strongly worded in favor of the Cubs, not only for purposes of the injunction, but also for the entire case. Indeed, the primary reason for refusing to grant the injunction? The court believes the rooftops have not demonstrated a likelihood on the merits of the case because the Cubs have not breached the revenue-sharing agreement and because there is no antitrust violation.
To be sure, this case is not technically over – there is still the motion to dismiss to be decided, and then discovery, and then additional motions, and then trial (and the rooftops could appeal this decision, as well). And technically, the court did not say “dear rooftops, your arguments lose.” But the court laid out, in painstaking detail, the reasons it believes – with everything presently in front of it – the rooftops’ arguments are unlikely to win on legal grounds. In other words, no amount of additional document discovery or research or fighting will help the rooftops on those arguments with this court at this point.
Worse for the rooftops, the court didn’t have to go that far. It ruled that a preliminary injunction was not appropriate at this time for other reasons (essentially, the rooftops don’t need it to survive because they won’t immediately be put out of business and they can be adequately made whole on the back-end if they wind up proving their case). So the court could have just left this as a mostly procedural decision, and left open the legal arguments. It did not.
In other words, the Cubs’ motion to dismiss was looking pretty good, and there’s a reason we didn’t hear much more about the case after that. You can see the court’s opinion here at Crain’s, where you can read that, after some additional briefing, nothing changed the court’s mind, and the rooftops’ suit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the rooftops cannot refile their claims.
It’s really over.
It seems that the 2015 season is about ending all kinds of eras. The Cubs and the rooftops have been sparring in various ways and via various vehicles about the present renovation since before the team even announced the precise renovation plans way back in early 2013. It’s been a long and often frustrating road, but the story – at least as far as the rooftops suing the Cubs about the current outfield signage plan – is at an end.
Interplay with the rooftops, of course, is not over, as they remain a notable part of the ambiance at Wrigley Field, and six of them are owned by the Ricketts Family, with an interest in a seventh, and presumable designs on getting on into even more of the 16 total. As the Wrigley expansion continues, and as the Wrigleyville experience evolves, you can expect that the rooftops’ role in that experience will evolve, as well.