Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Rooftop Club Owners Prepared to Fight for Views

The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association issued a statement on Friday in response to Thursday’s report from Sun-Times that a deal between the Cubs and city could be completed prior to Monday’s home opener. The rooftop club owners are not pleased that the Cubs have not shared the plans with the association, with whom they are contractual obligated to do so.

The association is prepared to fight to keep their views, and the statement on Friday backed up their statements in January that they would be willing to take the Cubs to court.

Wrigleyville Rooftops Association Statement

CHICAGO – The apparent decision to allow the Chicago Cubs to block the views of some Wrigleyville Rooftops is in direct violation of the current 20-year agreement entered into by the Cubs and the Rooftop owners. While Rooftop owners support the concept of renovating Wrigley Field, exact plans for outfield signage have not been provided to these contractual partners.

The in-force contract negotiated by federal mediators which enumerates revenue sharing between the Cubs and their neighbors – along with the accompanying landmark ordinance – protects the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers” until at least 2024. Any construction that interrupts the Rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.

Statement from Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers and spokesperson for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association:

“We reserve judgment until said proposals are publicized, however we are deeply troubled that 16 small businesses were not party to talks where their contractual rights were at stake. Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We support a renovated Wrigley Field, but the neighborhood and its businesses should be partners in the debate as we have over the last 30 years.”

Report from Crain’s Chicago Business

According to a report from WGN, a spokesman for the Cubs had no comment on the statement released by the rooftop club owners.

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  • Dorasaga

    Oh yea, the rooftops can say whatever they want. They may go to court and stop acting like it’s Hamlet. Let’s see who gets the last laugh. The fans don’t care. I’m satisfied as long as the Ricketts business plan generates a winning team on field.

  • Bryan

    Ricketts and team should worry more about the product on the field than the damn issues in the neighborhood.

    • gary3411

      They don’t care about the neighborhood they care about the stadium which is falling apart and has a direct influence on the product on the field. The neighborhood is sticking their butts into the stadium problems.

      • Bryan

        Well, as the team owner it’s Rickett’s problem to fix/renovate Wrigley, and not sticking it to the neighbors. He gets approximately 3 million fans a years thru the turnstyles…he should be able to figure it out.

        • calicub

          I’d say the neighbors are sticking it to him, not the other way around. No other sports franchise who has been around for as long as this one has would put up with these kinds of shenanigans from its ungrateful neighbors.

          The Ricketts were left with a ridiculously non-functioning organization with very unsustainable debt levels and other outside restrictions that should have no bearing on the way he does business, and yet here we are…

          Being able to have the cash flow in and around Wrigley (dont forget just how much property the Cubs own around the stadium) has everything to do with the product they put on the field.

          • Billy Buck

            Ricketts chose his debt structure; he was not left with it. His mess; his problem OR don’t buy the team.

          • calicub

            Really? He wasn’t left with it? I get a huge bulk is from his purchase, but bloated $ for Big z, soriano, marmol, jamarillo, untenable deals with the neighborhood especially the god-awful rooftop deals, an unrenovated park, and undersized staff, etc. etc. etc.!!

          • Billy Buck

            none of that is debt structure. do you know what debt structure is? the money owed on the team is debt structure. not the rooftops; that is income. not the unrenovated park; he had almost 3 yrs before the sale; did he not know?, the undersized staff is not debt; it’s lower employee staffing, and he’s upped tix prices and lowered the payroll so don’t think Z, Sori, etc are problems. again, he let Zell keep 5% ownerhsip and then fianced it in a very complicated structure when the money for down pymt is not his; came from family trust and papa Joe isn’t helping beyond that. that is why the stadium makes or breaks the ricketts ownership.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      They do care about the product on the field. Have you not been paying attention? They are executing a plan that should bring a perennial winner to the northside starting in 2015, maybe even next year. And they will be better this year than last.

      • Bryan

        “Executing a plan that will bring a perennial winner…starting in 2015”? Right now we have an embarrassment of a major league roster, no top pitching arms in the system to speak of, and a couple highly marketed position players (typical of the Cubs marketing spin group), that are in the low levels…and which anything can happen over the coming years. The seasons keep rolling off the calendar, but we keep drinking the kool-aid. For those of us who have been long-time followers, do you know how many times we’ve heard this same pitch, that some new GM all of a sudden has the magic potion to turn this into a “perennial winner”. As many have said here, prospects are just that…prospects. And in the meantime we are asked to tolerate the current roster. What’s another 90-100 loss season, right? A World Series is right around the corner.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          What does the promises of past regimes have to do with this one? You can’t asume the worst this time based on what has happened with unrelated management. I understand your bitterness, I’ve been a devoted Cubs fan since the early 80’s. Butbuour “how many times,” logic does not rationally apply to this regime. You can accuse us of drinking the kool-aid all you want but what I am doing is grtting excited about the building I’ve seem by the current front office.

          These guys have a track record of turn arounds and reclamations. Yes most of the mives have been for prospects but that is how you build a perennial winner. They could go sign a bunch of aging free agents and maybe ot maybe not win it all this year buy where does that leave us in the future? The Dodgers made the moves they did because they had a base of talent which was close to winning it all at the major league level. Also they had just enouhj minir league talent to bring in the ources to augment the major league roster and go for it all. We aren’t near that position so trying to win by any other means than building up the system with prospects made no sense.

          I understand your bitterness, I’m ready to win now as well. But these guys have a plan and are executing it as promised. Even this season they’ve brougjt in guys like Feldman, Navarro, Schierholts, Villanueva and Hairston to bring us bak prospects at the deadline. So far these moves look like they will pay off. I agree prospects are not guaranteed, whih is why you have to load up on them and increase your odds. We have and are continuing to do that.

          This is the “Cubs way.” It’s alll about starting from scratch and building from the bottom up, teaching sound fundamentals and geting all levels of the system and the players in the system in the same page. They are building something akin to a factory. They will churn out prospects, some will be great some won’t. But they will all play with the same standards when and if they make it. And when they do make it, we’ll be extremely competitive and if it looks like we have what it takes ti win the wirkd series, management will have the assets to augment the roster ny trading our surplus of prospects for proven studs tht can fill iut holes and push us over the top.

          This is how you become a franchise like the Braves, Rays or A’s that can compete year in and year out. And thanks to our resources we will be ableyo make those free agent an deadline deals that will be the difference between success and greatness.

          I sympathize with you my friend, but better times are coming. The new regime is proven, and doing it differently. And I believe one key factor is that thy believe in what they’re doing and won’t cave to pressure from fans, etc and start deviating. I view these guys through a new pair of glasses, because to view them through the old lenses does not make sense, and will reveal tainted perspective.

          • Tony_Hall

            Very well said!!

      • Harry’s Ghost

        love your enthusiasm; but get real. this team will lose 90 plus games this year; nothing to pay anyone on the back over. And they will not be competitive next year; only bjax,vizcaino and lake project to help the MLB team. there are NO good FA either; most are being signed. it’s 2016 for this team. most of the pitching is lower level too. this is a long rebuild. but ricketts made the most in baseball last year so it’s all good…………for him; not us; the 105 yrs of fans; watching losing teams.

  • gary3411

    None of this should even be an issue. The city should provide half the funds straight up to fix a field that is falling apart like they have every other Chicago Stadium. I don’t really blame the rooftop owners, they signed a contract and then probably invested heavily in their establishments. A contract is a contract.

    I think Ricketts really is using night games as just leverage because from my past experience a summer day game is a much harder ticket to acquire than a summer night game. Maybe that changed in the last year or 2 though.

    If the city doesn’t provide funds it’s time to move. Forget Wrigley with jumbotrons everywhere and if we are limited to even doing those there is no way I want the Cubs’ having to spend money on this stupid renovation when that money could be going toward players.

    Create a stupid ‘Cubs bond’ out of thin air for all I care Rahm like most municipalities do to pay for investments and then severely underestimate the cost. At least we will have our Wrigley back the way we like it and the money to spend on players!

    • Jason Penrod

      The night games provide more TV revenue from what I understand. I don’t think it was about attendance.

  • http://twitter.com/Jilogethan Wes Renne

    How the hell does the Rooftop association have so much say in what happens inside of Wrigley. They have enjoyed millions in revenue as a result of the Cubs and need to allow them to execute their business plan. The city needs to pony up, the rooftop associations need to shut up and let the team fix up this dump we call a Cathedral to baseball

  • Henry

    If you are in Wrigleyville you can make your voice heard by boycotting Murphy’s Bleachers ( owned by Beth Murphy) and Ann Sathers owned by Alderman Tunney.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    If the rooftop owners were being treated with respect and included they could workout a solution that benefited all. Cubs should be inviting them to all discussions and sharing all plans. They should be saying in essenece “we want to make some changes and update the stadium, you’ve been a contractual partner and part of the landscape for years. We want to come up with a plan that is acceptable to all, updates the stadium and preserves your part in the Cub experience.”

    The owners are being treated poorly and they’re digging in their heels. I don’t blame them.

    • Harry’s Ghost

      the rooftops are stealing a product they don’t own.
      cubs should move and be done with them. and then the rooftops will be done too.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Oh you are right. But years ago when the rooftops were just a novelty the Cubs ownership got greedy and wanted a piece of it. Thus the contract. Now they are partners, but the Cubs don’t want to treat them like one. When it was to the organizational benefit they signed a contract and partnered up. Now the rooftop owners want their voice heard in the process like any partner would. Cubs ownership now ignores them because in this case it isn’t to their benefit. They had their cake, now they want to eat it too.

        What they should consider is buying out the owners of the rooftops, then they can do as they want. Until then they are partners and should be treated as such. If years ago the team would have let the rooftops function as they had for years and ignored them, we wouldn’t have this problem now. But the team wanted their cut and now they have to deal with the consequences.

        I knew this would be an unpopular post but I believe it is the truth of the situation. The rooftop owners paid a pretty penny to own those buildings with the stadium in mind. It’s not as if they were stealing. And now they are partners, for better or worse.

        • Jason Penrod

          They need to just build their buildings taller, end of problem. I’m sure they can find money from the millions of dollars they’ve received from the Cubs’ product.

        • Alex Garcia

          “It’s not as if they were stealing”.

          Stealing is exactly what the rooftops were doing for twenty years before the 2004 contract. In fact, I’m pretty sure that taking and profiting off of something that isn’t yours is the very definition of “stealing”. Unfortunately, the 2004 agreement should never have passed muster with the Tribune company, especially for a paltry 17%. Should have been at least 75%, if anything. Now we have this mess. My view is that the Cubs should make a fresh effort to buy them out. If not, then proceed with the renovation and let them try to sue.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            So anyone within proximity of something that uses a view is stealing? Like restaurants with a balcony overlooking a monument or building in DC? Or a hotel room with a view of Niagra Falls? They made money off a view from their property. That is not stealing. That is profiting.

          • Alex Garcia

            Poor examples. A monument and waterways are in the public space, on easements usually. MLB and the Cubs and Wrigley are private entities and private property. Rooftops aren’t even simply folks setting up a few lawnchairs to watch a game happening in a neighbor’s yard. The rooftop owners, who have been raking in millions, have been doing so by building auditorium-sized seating and effectively marketing themselves as Cubs baseball, even before the unconscionable 2004 contract. That’s theft and the rooftops are fortunate that they weren’t called on this sooner. Now, their end is near one way or another. Either they sell-out or scale-back now; the Cubs leave for another site and the rooftops shrivel up; or the contract ends in 2024. Bottom line…The Cubs (and hopefully Wrigley) will go on. The rooftops will not because they are petulant and unnecessary.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I disagree that they are poor examples. Given the uniqueness of the situation they are the most similar. You don’t like the point they make so you discredit them. Those are public places but they are private locations, many that lock their doors after dark and associations, or other entities make money from, whether donations or outright fees. There is not a perdect example I can think of because it’s a unique situation. But if your building has a view into a nearby stadium and you charge peolle to view from there that is their right. It isn’t against the law and thus not stealing.

            And back to my original point which you have supported. They are now partners and the Cubs benefit from it. They should be included as any partner would be. I agree with you, the team should buy them out. But until then they are contractual partners. And if they were being treated as auch I imagine this situation would already be resolved. At least with regards to the rooftops.

          • Alex Garcia

            Boardrider: I frankly don’t support any of your points. I suppose that I’m not quite as willing to support a group of 16 freeloaders who feel entitled to hold up a project that will benefit more than their little rooftop clubs. They need to be run out of business.

  • Ray Ray

    John Lackey just threw a pitch and it looked like his arm exploded. It was his First start in over a year. That has got to be one of the worst free agent signings in history. 5 years at 82.5 mil. He is 34 and that will probably be the last pitch he will throw in the show.

    • Ray Ray

      Diagnoses not nearly as bad as it looked. Right bicep strain. Check out the video if you get a chance.

  • Dnuge

    I may be in the minority, but I say move to Rosemont and then watch everybody run to court while Wrigleyville, loses jobs etc.

    • Jason Penrod

      Build a replica like the Yankees did. Wrigley’s player facilities and this stupid agreement with the rooftops is really slowing down progress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MAXHERE17 Max Waisvisz

    IN 2004 Lufrano and Crane signed a 17percent of gross (equates to almost 50 percent of net) for the rooftops. With that agreement the rooftops made a better product investing 50 million dollars loaned by banks to give the consumers a good time. Instead mr ricketts wants to ignore a contract and not work with the ROOFTOPS in a plan to make everyone happy… Easy Solution is to take over 3701 kenmore and tear it down and build what every you want with the JUMBOTRON and you wont get sued by the rooftops…. So easy of a solution…. Think instead of destroy

    • Alex Garcia

      The rooftops deserve to be destroyed, or at least boycotted. They are poachers, pure and simple. They profited for 20 years by effectively stealing someone else’s product. For some ungodly reason, Crane Kenney (sp?) caved and basically legalized their poaching operation for a paltry 17%. My sincere hope is that the rooftops realize that their game is up. Either the Cubs cut bait now and move, leaving Murphy and her entitlement cabal in the lurch; or the Cubs stick it out for the remaining 11 years of that unconscionable agreement and not renew it. Either way, the rooftops’ end is nigh. My hope is that they decide to look at what’s good for the entire neighborhood and city instead of their own narrow interests. They’ve profited for long enough. Allow the signage and scoreboard even if that sacrifices one or two of the rooftops.

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