This morning, the Chicago Cubs announced that they planned to move forward with the renovation of Wrigley Field without any kind of explicit approval from, or agreement with, the rooftop owners with whom the Cubs have a revenue-sharing agreement. That announcement was, effectively, the Cubs saying, “We’re doing this. If you want to sue us, sue us.”
And, so the rooftop response today should not surprise you. Here’s the statement of the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, in its entirety:
The Ricketts family’s decision to unilaterally end negotiations with their contractual partners is another refusal to accept any of the proposed win-win solutions that could have funded the modernization of Wrigley Field and enhance the team’s competitiveness. In fact, it appears their zeal to block rooftop owners who pay them millions of dollars a year in royalties knows no bounds. Unfortunately, this decision by the Ricketts family will now result in this matter being resolved in a court of law,” said Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman, Wrigleyville Rooftops Association.
It should be noted current Cubs president Crane Kenney and legal counsel Mike Lufrano negotiated the contract with the rooftops over a decade ago.
As I’ve always said: the rooftops have a contract in hand, and every person/entity is entitled to have their rights sorted out in court if it comes to that. Our early peaks at the contract suggest that they’ve got a pretty thin argument, but it’s their right to make it. And, when the business is on the line, sometimes folks feel like they have no choice but to go make their thin argument.
A settlement remains the hope here, and it is still possible that the holdup is one or two owners that could be persuaded to finally relent, now that it looks like the Cubs are going to move forward with a much more damaging (to the rooftops) renovation plan. (Dan Bernstein this morning suggests the holdup is just one owner, which, if true, makes you feel a little bad for the rest of the owners. Are they bound to move forward as an association, even if they otherwise believed just one owner was a problem? Couldn’t they vote that owner out? I’m just spitballing here, because I have no visibility to the nature of the association or the relationships therein. So, until one or more breaks publicly, we’ll have to take them at their word when they release statements like this as an association: they’re all together in this, and they plan to fight the Cubs in court.)
The Cubs (and perhaps many of the rooftops) tried for more than a year to come to a peaceable agreement here. But, sometimes, the interests are just too numerous and too divergent to get a deal done. We’ll see if the additional leveraged grabbed by the Cubs today will change that, or if this really does end up in court.