David Kaplan of CSN Chicago reports on talks between the Cubs and rooftop owners:
Multiple sources have confirmed to me over the past few days that negotiations are going on between the Cubs and several owners of rooftop buildings on both Waveland and Sheffield that border the bleachers in both left and right field. The negotiations, which had been superficial since the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs in October of 2009, heated up recently after the renovation plan received final approval from the City of Chicago.
The article indicates these negotiations could possibly conclude with a number of the buildings actually sold to the Ricketts family. Kaplan writes that some of the rooftops "are not dealing from the strongest financial position and are looking to get out from under heavy financial pressure that came about from a number of factors," which isn't surprising considering the play of the team over the last few years, which have meant less business for the rooftops. Here's the biggest indication that something is likely to get done soon:
"Despite years of acrimonious negotiations and public sniping that has pitted the two sides against one another, things have gotten much better. The Ricketts family has been amazingly fair, and Tom has been a man of his word throughout these latest discussions. He and his brothers and sister want the rooftop owners to get a fair deal, and Tom has been clear in his instructions to the rest of his team that he wants things handled that way. Now what they think is fair and what the rooftop owners think is fair could still end up being two entirely different things but I believe that a deal will get done before Opening Day," a source with extensive knowledge of the talks told me tonight.
One big mistake Tribune Company made during its 28-year ownership of the Cubs was to not buy out all those buildings in the early 1980s. By then, it was clear that sitting on the rooftops could have been a money-maker for the team, but it never happened. Back then, those buildings could have been had for a relative pittance. Here's a story I might not have told here before.
I know someone who has been a Wrigley Field regular for several decades, going back to the 1960s. In the 1970s this individual befriended one of the owners of the buildings on Sheffield -- can't recall which one; the building owner used to let this person park behind the building when coming to games. Around 1978 or 1979 this owner wanted to sell and offered the building to the person I know.
Price? $38,000. The individual I know didn't have the money at the time, so no deal was made.
My guess is that Tribune could have bought every one of those buildings in the early or mid-1980s for a total of about $2 million. It would have avoided a decade's worth of acrimony.
Anyway, now that all appears to be ending, and as Kaplan's article states, a deal to end the Cubs/rooftops dispute could be in place soon.