Friday morning, the owners of the rooftop clubs across from Wrigley Field made an offer to the Cubs: ensure that the clubs' views remain unobscured (for a period of up to 20 years) and in exchange, they'd put digital signs on their buildings and give the team 100% of the revenue (by their estimate, from $10-20 million a year).
Later in the day, the Cubs said that's a non-starter:
"If the rooftop owners have a new plan, they would be well advised to discuss it with the team instead of holding press conferences, because a deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city of Chicago to move forward," said Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the owners of the Cubs. The team's response upset the rooftop owners, who say they presented a general outline of their plan three months ago in a private meeting with Cubs' officials as well as at a meeting the local alderman held Wednesday night that team representatives attended.
Another Cubs spokesman explained the team's reasoning:
Team spokesman Julian Green told DNAInfo, “Any signs outside the ballpark offer a significantly reduced value given the limited TV exposure.”
The Cubs, then, apparently feel that they'd rather have in-ballpark signage because it would bring them more revenue. That's not an unreasonable position -- in my opinion, as long as they do the signs in a tasteful way and don't turn Wrigley's outfield into a Chase Field-like mess of lighted signs -- but the rooftop owners could turn this into a real mess:
George Loukas, who owns three rooftop clubs and other businesses in the North Side Wrigleyville neighborhood, threatened to sue the the team if it erects billboards in the outfield that block rooftop views into the stadium. "We have a right to defend our position," Loukas said Friday. "Yes, we would go to court."
Ugh. This isn't going to be pretty. Stay tuned.