This story flew somewhat under the radar Friday with all the Joe Maddon news, but as Bruce Levine reports, the Ricketts family is about to close a deal for two of the rooftop buildings owned by local businessman George Loukas:
Numerous sources have confirmed that the Ricketts Family LLC, a different entity from the Cubs, is close to finalizing a deal to purchase two roof top buildings owned by George Loukas and his family. The buildings overlook Wrigley field. The sale by Loukas points to many others falling in line and selling the other rooftop buildings to the Cubs. An unconfirmed source said the sale price was $6 million per building; that was not confirmed by a second source.
The second part of the quote, to me, is less certain. Sure, it seems likely, given the fact that the Cubs have zero interest in extending the rooftop deal past its expiration nine years from now, that rooftop owners would eventually sell out to the Cubs (or, more correctly, the Ricketts Family LLC, as noted in Levine's article). There aren't any specific rumors or report past the sale of the two buildings noted in the link, though.
According to this 2011 Sun-Times article, Loukas owns the Cubby Bear (where the Joe Maddon news conference will be held Monday), the Sports Corner at the corner of Addison & Sheffield and "three rooftop party decks" as well as "dozens of apartments" in Wrigleyville. The article also specifically notes that Loukas bought the building at 3700 N. Sheffield (the northwest corner of Sheffield & Waveland) in 1974. I'm not sure if this is one of the buildings included in the sale to the Ricketts, but here's that rooftop club's website.
The Sun-Times article is illuminating. It says that in 1974:
Back then, tenants were mostly poor folks and the occasional drug dealer. Rent was 75 bucks a month for a two-bedroom. Cubs games were sparsely attended novelties. Local bars were dives. Latin Kings controlled the dope trade. Prostitutes worked the corners. Junkies slept in alleys. And there was nowhere to get a half-skim, no-foam latte. Loukas and a pal had a barbecue on the rooftop at 3700 N. Sheffield, which the brothers bought for just $135,000.
I've written before that one of Tribune Company's biggest mistakes was not buying up all the buildings on both Waveland and Sheffield in the early 1980s. I've also mentioned the experience of a friend of mine who was given the chance to buy a somewhat smaller building on Sheffield in the late 1970s for $38,000. Given those sorts of prices, Tribco could have bought pretty much all the buildings for a couple million dollars and, decades later, would have been able to put up seating and clubs on the rooftops that they owned themselves, during the hot-ticket heyday of the 2003-08 period.
But they didn't. The dispute between rooftop owners and the team has been well chronicled and I don't have to repeat it here. This sale, likely the first of many, will end up with the rooftop buildings under the control of the Ricketts family, where they can theoretically use them for many different Cubs-related purposes.