Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs Contractually Obligated to Hype Wrigleyville Rooftops

Phil Rosenthal reported more details of the current 20-year contract between the Cubs and the Wrigleyville rooftops owners on Sunday. According to the report in the Tribune, “the contract calls for the Cubs to help them in a variety of ways” which further pushes the point of the rooftop owners that they are as much a part of the Wrigleyville experience as the ballpark.

The contract states that it is “a requirement that WGN-TV will show and comment upon the Rooftops’ facilities during broadcasts of Cubs games and the Cubs will request other Cubs television broadcasting partners to do the same.” The contract also includes verbiage that the team discuss the rooftops during tours of Wrigley Field and positive stories about the rooftops must be included in the Vine Line.

The rooftop owners are looking for their current contract to be extended by nine years. The current contract was signed in 2004 and runs through 2023. The rooftop owners are looking for the contract extension in exchange for allowing the Cubs to put digital signage on their rooftops while not seeing a penny of the money generated by those signs. Under the proposal, the Cubs and the city would split the revenue generated by the signage, which could bring in an estimated $10-$20 million a season. The money the city received would be used for additional police protection and maintenance in the neighborhood.

Under the current contract that was agreed to by the Tribune Co. and the rooftops owners, the Cubs receive 17 percent of their sales.

The rooftop owners think they have leverage in the contract they signed in 2004 that they will be able to “parlay into an extension of their current agreement with the team.” But the current contract with the rooftop owners allows for “any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation” of the deal. As Phil Rosenthal pointed out, that means if Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets behind the Ricketts, look out.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.canavan.14 Jim Canavan

    The city will follow the money. Ricketts has 300mm already on the table.

  • RynoTiger

    who in the heck negotiated and agreed to that contract on the Cubs behalf?! have those people been fired so they can’t make anymore dumb agreements like that?!

    • Dorasaga

      Indeed. I mean, look at this guy: “Jim Lourgos, one of the rooftop club owners, said recently during a
      visit to Tribune Tower. “If you’re in court on something like this, my
      feeling has always been that by the time you’re in court, you’ve already
      lost.” ”

      WAS THAT A THREAT? I wonder if one of these rooftops is a board member of the Tribune Co., or a relative thereof? SOMEONE needs to find out how the rooftops got all the high horses after all the beyond-this-world bargain they got for free, not even earned anything for the city.

      What more wrongs can they do? I’m feeling glad to be away from Chicago right now, and away from these corrupted and greedy people.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree, that whole group just fries my potato’s.
        That place will look like a junkyard, but it does look like the Cubs are backed into a corner with the original contract. Dont like this one at all.

    • DWalker

      I wonder if Crane Kenny would care to take credit for that?

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  • Rational Logic

    I think if the Cubs went to court they could win. I’m not an attorney, but I believe if the organization and the city provide the benefits that are involved for the Cubs, the City AND the rooftop owners, it would outweigh anything negative the rooftop owners can claim, other than breach of contract.

    For the Cubs, it’s increased revenue from signage, which will be reinvested in the organization, as well as the real estate surrounding the stadium. This has a multitude of benefits for the community.

    For the City, it’s increased revenue from signage, that will be used for city reinvestment, development, and safety.

    For the owners, it’s continued revenue streams without having to make capital contributions (as well a potential contract extension).

    If the only ‘negative’ is that the rooftop owners extend the contract, that’s fine. The contract will need to be extended if the signage is on the rooftops. Otherwise, the Cubs will have to spend additional money to move the signs from the rooftops to the ballpark in 2023. We now need the rooftops as place holders for the signs.

    With the city behind the Cubs and the numerous benefits to all parties involved, I dont think it would be wise for the owners to take the Cubs to court. Am I missing anything?

    • daverj

      I wonder if the rooftop owners made some sort of legal argument related to the Illinois common law of adverse possession. While not exactly on point, I could see how an attorney could use those laws as an analogy to argue for the baseball viewing rights of the rooftop owners. Perhaps another possible legal argument could be based on a constructive easement theory. Just my speculation.

      • Rational Logic

        Scraping my remaining knowledge from undergrad business law here. I don’t think constructive easement would be in play due to the fact that the owners would (1) agree to have the signs on the rooftops and (2) there is no blockage of view. Now, if in fact you’re talking about signs ON Wrigley, then yes, I would think that would be an easy win in the rooftops favor, but I don’t think that’s the plan in place. I would have to assume there is such language in the contract, otherwise the Cubs would probably just say keep 100% of your profits, we’re putting up signs that will pay us more!

        I don’t think adverse possession would come into effect, either, as the Cubs are not taking ownership/title of the land. If the rooftop owners willingly submit to the signage on the rooftops, then they hold no ground in suing the Cubs for either of the above mentioned legal reasons I believe.

        I think their argument is rather weak, all things considered. Unfortunately, the signed contract exists. I just hope the weight of the City and the benefits from the planned project outweigh anything the rooftop owners can bring to the table.