SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- At least now we know exactly who Ald. Tom Tunney is.
He's not interested in having a deal made with the Chicago Cubs to renovate and restore Wrigley Field.
He's not interested in serving the residents of the ward who have elected him to the Chicago City Council three times.
No, all he's doing is protecting the interests of the owners of the rooftop clubs that surround Wrigley Field, people who donated large sums of money to his campaign. How do we know this? From his latest ridiculous idea, as reported by Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times:
Determined to preserve the birds-eye view from rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has made a bold suggestion to the Cubs: replace the iconic landmarked centerfield scoreboard with a video scoreboard that would generate millions without blocking anybody’s view. Two sources close to the negotiations said Tunney has made that suggestion repeatedly in his continuing effort to protect rooftop club owners whom the aldermen counts among his most reliable campaign contributors. "Put it in centerfield. Make it as big as you want," a source close to the negotiations quoted the alderman as saying. "He wants no signs that block a rooftop. [But], how do you think the fans would react? They would revolt. The Cubs wouldn’t dare to suggest it. To have Tunney suggest it underscores what this is all about."
I'm not the only one who thinks this is true. Check out the quotes in the article from Marc Ganis, a sports marketing consultant:
Chicago-based sports marketing consultant Marc Ganis likened Tunney’s scoreboard demolition idea to "ripping out the ivy and putting scoreboards on the outfield walls." The "desperate ploy" is proof-positive of "where the alderman’s loyalties lie," Ganis said. "If the scoreboard is not important to Tunney or the Landmarks Commission, it should not have been landmarked in the first place. But, it is entirely inappropriate to trade something that’s landmarked to protect a private business that’s the largest contributor to a local politician," Ganis said.
But wait! There's more from Ganis:
Ganis said, "It is abundantly clear that he’s protecting the rooftops. What’s that old saying? The emperor has no clothes."
There's really no defending the rooftop owners -- beyond these ridiculous statements from Tunney, at least one rooftop owner is being sued:
Three former busboys who worked at a rooftop club during Cubs home games are suing their employer for stealing tips and failing to pay them overtime, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. Pedro Castro, Rik Leja and Daniel Garcia, all Chicago residents, were longtime busboys at the Sheffield Baseball Club at 3619 N. Sheffield Ave., where hundreds of Cubs fans would come to watch games from what its website boasts as "the closest Wrigley rooftop to home plate." Customers paid $75 to $35O for admission, according to the lawsuit. With 12 to 14 workers on the rooftop each game, a typical night would bring each worker about $12O — if they ever saw the money, according to the lawsuit. Instead, Chicago attorney Steve Saks, who is representing the employees, said management, including owner Thomas Gramatis, kept the money. "The managers would take (the tips), and these guys wouldn't get anything," Saks said.
Since this lawsuit has not yet been adjudicated, I won't make any judgments on the rooftop owner, but simply say that this doesn't look very good.
It's time for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to tell the tinpot dictator of the 44th Ward that he needs to back down; the city and the Cubs can certainly negotiate reasonably over the proposed renovations to Wrigley Field. I wouldn't expect the Cubs to be given everything they have asked for; neither would I expect their entire project to be blocked by one man who's protecting not his constituents, but his campaign contributors.
It's time to stop the nonsense and get this deal done so the Cubs can begin their project next offseason.