clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wrigley Rooftops Claim Revenue Is At Risk With Cubs Video Boards

New, 132 comments

Somehow, I don't think you'll have much sympathy.

These are the rooftop views that are going to be blocked by the Cubs' right-field board. The Miller sign seen here is currently vacant, with a "for rent" sign on it
These are the rooftop views that are going to be blocked by the Cubs' right-field board. The Miller sign seen here is currently vacant, with a "for rent" sign on it
David Banks/Getty Images

New court papers filed last week in the case of the rooftops trying to prevent the Cubs from installing their video boards claimed that the boards would hurt the rooftop businesses financially, according to the Tribune:

Chris Bue, [a] consultant [to the rooftops], said in court papers that it shows a video board in right field would block views into the ballpark and destroy the businesses.

Without ticket sales, described as the rooftops' "only significant source of revenue," the rooftop businesses would have no income and be unable to cover mortgages — fixed costs not dependent on activity stemming from Cubs games, according to the documents filed by Tom Lombardo, an attorney representing the businesses.

"If the proposed right field video board is installed at Wrigley Field, Skybox would have no revenue, and will be unable to pay its filed mortgage and real estate expenses immediately hereafter," Bue wrote. "If the proposed right field video board is installed at Wrigley Field, Skybox will be insolvent in that it will be unable to pay debts as they become due in the ordinary course of business."

That silence I hear is a decided lack of sympathy to the rooftop businesses. Further, according to the article, Judge Virginia Kendall's ruling last week denying the rooftops a temporary restraining order said that "the rooftop businesses had not proven they would lose money or become insolvent."

There's more on this topic in this Crain's Chicago Business article by Danny Ecker, including a detailed look into the actual financials for the Lakeview Baseball Club and Skybox on Sheffield, the two clubs that are involved in the current lawsuit. You can see Chris Bue's court filing in that article as well.

As noted above, I'm getting to the point where I have little or no sympathy for any of the rooftop owners. While their contention that they have an agreement with the Cubs is correct, they certainly have played this dispute the wrong way from the beginning. When they were first made aware that some of the Cubs' expansion plans included signs or video boards, instead of trying to make a deal with the team, they threatened litigation with every press release. This obviously didn't make the Cubs happy and it caused public opinion to turn against the rooftops, which they realized, but too late. Remember that two-sign plan that the Cubs had approved in 2013? Rooftop owners threatened litigation over that, only to backtrack and say "We'll accept that plan!" in 2014 when the Cubs revealed a seven-sign plan (since scaled back to six and tweaked a bit) that would have pretty much blocked every rooftop view.

As I've said before, I think the endgame of this dispute will be the Ricketts family owning most or all of the buildings on Sheffield and Waveland and operating rooftop seating themselves, something Tribune Co. could have been doing from the mid-1980s if they'd been a little more prescient.

The parties are due back in court March 23.