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The Rooftops File Another Lawsuit Against The City

This one probably won't go anywhere either. But I thought you should know about it.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Owners of the rooftop clubs across the street from Wrigley Field have been threatening lawsuit against the Cubs for the last couple of years, ever since the Cubs revealed plans to put up a Jumbotron and other signs that might block views from some of the buildings.

Now, they have filed such a suit accusing the Cubs of "bad faith," according to this Sun-Times article. Here's the crux of the issue:

The Cubs say their plans were designed to score a federal tax credit worth up to $75 million.

But the rooftop owners allege the Ricketts family had ulterior motives when it last year asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand-picked Chicago Commission on Landmarks to approve changes to their plan for signs and a jumbotron.

“Instead of substantively modifying the outfield sign plan, the Cubs reconfigured the . . . signs so as to completely block the views of the Rooftops the Cubs were unable to purchase,” the owners allege in the suit against the City of Chicago.

The new sign arrangement shafts rooftop owners who weren’t willing to sell, but will “restore the views of the Rooftops the Cubs contracted to purchase,” say the owners, who want a Cook County Judge to stop the signs from going up.

Well... let's put it this way. I did speculate last May when those renderings were first announced that they could, in fact, do just that:

If you look at the overall Wrigley panoramic rendering above, as well as the right-field scene, you can see multiple new signs that would... pretty much block all the rooftop views.

But the Cubs did make some adjustments in the sign plan, as noted in the lawsuit's text quoted above. Newer renderings show less blockage of views from the rooftops, and as has been noted often here and elsewhere, the city and the Landmarks Commission have signed off on the Cubs' signage, which is now under construction as part of the bleacher project.

The rooftops, in my view, had their chance. They do, as they have often noted, have a contract with the Cubs that runs through 2023. It's pretty obvious that many of these clubs are in financial trouble; some are going through foreclosure and the Cubs are reportedly buying some others. This lawsuit sounds like a last-gasp attempt for the rooftops to get some sort of financial settlement out of the team. I do know that, as has been noted many times, the Cubs/rooftops contract calls for arbitration, not lawsuits, as the means for settling disputes between the two parties.

I'm not a lawyer so I'd appreciate it if those of you who are could comment on this suit from a legal standpoint. Seems to me that it won't get very far, but I'd like a legal viewpoint on it as well.