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Tom Ricketts decides to go to war with the rooftop owners over Wrigley Field renovations

May 22, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Wrigley Rooftop

The Cubs and the rooftop owners have been in rancorous negotiations for a year over the Wrigley Field renovation. The upshot: owner Tom Ricketts wants to pay for renovations, in part, by putting up big billboards behind the bleachers. The rooftop owners — who have a deal with the Cubs which pays the team part of the proceeds they get for their little rooftop seats and parties looking into the ballpark — say that doing so violates the contract and that, if the Cubs go through with the plan, they’ll sue.

This move by the Cubs is not, therefore, one which is likely to lead to a quick resolution:

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is offering a new pitch to long-suffering fans as he struggles to get a Wrigley Field renovation underway: If the rooftop owners are going to sue us anyway over blocked views into the stadium, we might as well get more of what we want in an upgraded ballpark.

To that end, he plans to submit a revised proposal to City Hall that would feature more large electronic signs, additional seats, bigger clubhouses and a relocation of the quaint bullpens from foul territory to a spot under the bleachers by removing bricks and some of the iconic ivy and covering the space with a material that would allow relievers to see onto the field, according to a high-ranking Cubs source.

The move was announced in a video from Ricketts to Cubs fans, along with a story from Carrie Muskat of with more details about the clubhouse renovation and plans for altered seating and lighting in the outfield.

I feel like Ricketts and the Cubs did some math, figured out how much they’d realistically have to pay out in order to appease the rooftop owners — whose contract ends in 2023 — and decided “screw it, we’ll make the money now and pay them off later if they think they can win.” Of course, to make these changes they have to get city approval and that’s no sure thing given how politically-connected the rooftop people are. It’s gonna get Chicago-ugly pretty soon, one assumes.

In any event, this is either the kiss-off to the rooftops or as hard a negotiating ploy as Ricketts could muster. Fun times.

  1. American of African Descent - May 22, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    If the contract ends in 2013 (see your second to last paragraph), why is this an issue?

    Also, is there something about replacing the “o” in Chicago with a “0” that is funny, snarky, or cool?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 22, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      It’s a typo, the contract ends in 2023

    • proudlycanadian - May 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      Was 2013 typo???

  2. pundyveit - May 22, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Contract ends in 2013? No problemo then!

  3. sleepyirv - May 22, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    The Cubs are willing to pay for a bunch of things for Wrigley and the area that in any other city the team would insist the taxpayers pick up the bill. City politicos shouldn’t kill the golden goose to appease the rooftop owners.

  4. clydeserra - May 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    I don’t like the bullpen idea. I like on the field bullpens. I like SF even better where the relievers sit in the dugout.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - May 22, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Someone can check me on this but I recall hearing that the bullpens in San Francisco are where they are because in the plans to the new park, no one remembered to include bullpens until it was too late in the process, so they improvised.

      • clydeserra - May 22, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        I think that’s right. They had to get a waiver from MLB, because MLB requires bullpens to be off the playing field.

  5. El Bravo - May 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The rooftops are a novelty and nothing more. The views blow out there. F em. Put up a giant billboard ad for Pole Katz instead.

    • nottinghamforest13 - May 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Heavenly Bodies.

      • jerze2387 - May 22, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        Why not just relocate Pole Katz and Heavenly Bodies to the rooftops. Theyll need a new source of entertainment. (and since we’re plugging local spots, id reccomend Temptations in Gary)

  6. tfilarski - May 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    About time!

  7. kyzslew77 - May 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Of course it was the Cubs themselves who went to the rooftop owners (not the other way around) with the proposal for the contract, and gave them a guarantee that the views wouldn’t be obstructed in exchange for a small amount of money. Of course it was. Even when the Cubs are the ones offering the deal, they still manage to screw themselves.

    • El Bravo - May 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      This is so true. Years and years of whining about the rooftop owners stealing free game views, so they break a deal, and now this. Karma is a B.

    • chiadam - May 22, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      That deal was brokered before the Ricketts bought the team. Not a lot they could do about it. And the rooftop owners (there are really only two that are causing an issue) are going to get destroyed in court.

  8. granadafan - May 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    The rooftop owners got too greedy by putting up bleachers and party rooms. The Cubs didn’t care when it was a few people with lawn chairs on the roofs, but when the owners started charging and making massive upgrades, then it became too much of an issue. I don’t blame the Cubs one bit. Put the billboards up or install an upper deck in the outfield.

    • kyzslew77 - May 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      That’s not how it worked. Read some of the article about it. Once the rooftop bleachers and party rooms started happening, the Cubs went to the rooftop owners and offered the deal that is in place today. They already had a chance to fix this situation/get a cut of the money (which they are getting, but not that much because they offered a bad deal) and they blew it. To get out of the deal now is going to cost them a lot, and it should.

      • chiadam - May 22, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        That. deal. was. done. before. the. Ricketts. bought. the. effing. team.

      • sportsfan18 - May 22, 2014 at 9:32 PM

        so, their deal is through 2023 whether the previous owners still owned them or the Ricketts family etc…

        just because a company is sold doesn’t mean current contracts aren’t still valid and in force.

        what about all the contracts the team has to order beer, hot dogs, buns, mustard, ketchup etc… just because the team changed hands, these CONTRACTS are in place.

        you say the deal was done before the Ricketts bought the team.

        Well, what about the players contracts that were made BEFORE the Ricketts bought the team?

        Guess what? Those players are still under their current contract, so are their vendors and so are the rooftop owners…

        What does changing owners have to do with it? The contract is still in place regardless of who owns the team.

    • mybrunoblog - May 22, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Agreed. Back in the 1970s and 80s they were a quaint group of fans watching baseball with lawn chairs and cheap beers. Once it became a big business it lost all it’s charm. Build the scoreboards, increase the size of the bleachers and let progress have its way.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 22, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    I get the novelty of the rooftop scene, but the view is basically slightly worse than the worst seats in the stadium. I think Ricketts should put this thing to bed before the Cubs get good in a few years. Settling for the rights to view a 100-loss team will be far cheaper than (god strike me down for even saying it) for a World Series contender.

    • El Bravo - May 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      You better duck.

  10. nflofficeadmin - May 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Wow. 12 gauge approach.

  11. nottinghamforest13 - May 22, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    It’s just a big hangout for lesbian frat boys. Loria is laughing all the way to the bank on on this one. And you know who caused all the issues to begin with? Sam Zell.

    • El Bravo - May 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Aren’t lesbian frat boys just straight men in fraternities? Given the homoerotic hazing rituals known to occur at many of the big midwestern schools’ fraternities, lesbian frat boys may be in the minority. To clarify, I think you mean that Wrigley is chalk full of Chicago Bros:

      The Chicago Bro

      Uniform: North Face jacket, Big 10 college sweatshirt (ALMA MATER ONLY), athletic shoes. During the summer, basketball shorts, a college tee shirt, baseball cap, and sandals. Toes aplenty among the bros of Chicago during warm weather.

      Job: Consulting or accounting. Finance, but not, like, sexy finance. Maybe a loan officer or a financial advisor.

      Hobbies: Getting blackout drunk every weekend.

      Secret shame: Is going bald (that’s what the baseball cap is supposed to hide) and getting large in the middle from all that drinking, despite only being 28 (every bro in Chicago is 28).

      Celeb brospiration: Vince Vaughn

      You’re welcome.

      • mybrunoblog - May 22, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Let me guess. You were the guy the Chicago bro’s beat up at that frat party right?

      • El Bravo - May 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        I’m from the East Coast jerk.

      • chiadam - May 22, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        How long have you been an asshole?

  12. gloccamorra - May 22, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    It’s just too bad Ricketts is so poor. He should have bought some industrial land south and east of Comiskey, er, U.S. Cellular Field and disassembled Wrigley and reassembled it in the south end.

    He could just leave the old concrete foundations in place for the rest of the contract, and put up an old beat-up second hand video board that shows home games at relocated Wrigley.

    The contract isn’t violated, and after 10 years, he redevelops the old site that has become more valuable, after paying reduced taxes on it for a decade.

  13. tfilarski - May 22, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    You may recall that the word “expansion” is pretty critical in the anticipated Cubs/rooftops legal dispute, given that their revenue-sharing agreements reportedly provides (emphasis mine):

    6.6 The Cubs shall not erect windscreens or other barriers to obstruct the views of the Rooftops, provided however that temporary items such as banners, flags and decorations for special occasions, shall not be considered as having been erected to obstruct views of the Rooftops. Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement, including this section.

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