Hi, Some fans may not know the entire history behind the Cubs versus the roof top owners. Some decisions made years ago are coming home to roost. I don't know what the year was, but Andy MacPhail was the GM. Basically the rooftop owners were stealing the product and charging people to sit on the roof to watch the games. Like it or not, the Cubs own the rights to the product and that is illegal.
At the time the Tribune wanted to put up some more advertising signs and they threatened other things like pennants and flags to block the views. The rooftop owners, knowing how Chicago politics work, paid off the appropriate alderman and the city declared Wrigley Field a historical landmark or something, which in effect gave the city architectual control. Now the politicians could control what the Cubs could and could not do as a private business.
I have heard estimates run as high as $100 million in lost reverne because the Cubs cannot put up the huge signs like other stadiums have. The more they are in view of the TV cameras during the game, the more advertising revenue they generate.
As a result of the move by the city, the Tribune then negotiated a deal where they received 17% of the profits from the rooftop owners; a small amount as compared to the advertising revenue they could earn if they could plater the place with advertising. The Tribune knew they were going to sell the team so they negotiated a deal with the rooftops in 2004 which I believe runs until 2023 or something so now the rooftop owners have a legitimate contract with the previous owners which the team must abide by.
When the Cubs went to the trough for public money for a stadium like the Bulls, Bears and Sox got, Emmanual did not want to anti up....the city is broke. Instead the team worked out a deal where they would pay for the necessary upgrades if the city would remove the restrictions so they could put up advertising to pay for the ugrades. That was approved last summer by the city council and theoretically all is legal......except the rooftop owners don't like it one bit.
Now the Cubs have permission to move walls back and do all kinds of things to accomodate the roof top owners as best they can but apparently that is not enough. They walked away from the bargaining table and the roof top owners still have the option of suing for breach of contrat - and the Cubs are not putting a dime into things until that gets resolved.
So who is the real culprit? Well one could make a case for the rooftop owners who were stealing the product for a profit to begin with and used their political influence to continue the process. One could blame the polticians for getting involved in the rights of private business to begin with. In the meantime the fans contune to see a lousy product on the field.
While I will not go into the TV contract but it too is well below market. Combine current market rates for broadcasting, plus another $100 million or so for advertising and there would be a heck of a lot better product on the field. Personally, I would not blame ownership if they got the hell out of Chicago and went somewhere where they would get a fair shake.
So how does it get fixed? The team has to make it pretty clear they have no choice but to move in things don't get resolved. This time the politicians have to lean on the rooftop owners like they did the Tribune years ago. If they don't, then both the city and roof top owners should get what they deserve. The team moves and the north side turns into a ghetto like much of the rest of the city. I personally don't blame Ricketts one bit. He needs to stand his ground and be able to run his business as he sees fit like most other teams in baseball.