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Ricketts Family Acquires More Wrigley Rooftops

The endgame is in sight.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I've written several times about the Ricketts family's continuing effort to acquire more of the rooftop clubs on Waveland and Sheffield, and figured the eventual endgame would be for them to control most or all of them.

Wednesday, that came closer to fruition with the Ricketts family buying three more rooftops:

This week, the Ricketts family — set on increasing its control of an economy that feeds off the team — acquired three rooftop businesses beyond the left-field bleachers. With nine of the 16 rooftop clubs, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and his family now control more than half of the iconic industry surrounding the 102-year-old stadium.

But the surprise, said Jim Spencer, a Lakeview resident for nearly 20 years who heads the East Lake View Neighbors, is that the deals hadn't been done sooner.

"The Rickettses are the only ones who have any need for those buildings," he said Wednesday. "The die was cast when they got the go-ahead to put up the scoreboard in right-field."

The announcement Wednesday that the Ricketts had acquired the buildings at 1010 W. Waveland Ave., 1038 W. Waveland Ave. and 1048 W. Waveland Ave. brought the number of Wrigley rooftops that are under Ricketts family control to 10 (though the article says nine, this new website featuring all the Ricketts-owned rooftops together says it's 10), out of the 16 buildings in total that surround Wrigley Field on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.

Perusing that website, it appears the Ricketts family will continue to operate the clubs the same way as they had before, as venues for groups or individuals (tickets can be bought on that site for groups "from 1 to 200") to watch Cubs games from across the street. According to a press release, the rooftops will be marketed under the Wrigley Rooftops brand umbrella and will be managed and operated by Sheffield-Waveland Rooftops, Inc, a management company with years of experience operating rooftops and other food and beverage venues in the Wrigleyville area.

"Rain or shine, Wrigley Rooftops are the ideal space for groups looking to entertain guests, host meetings or simply watch a baseball game," said Stacey Loukas, general manager of Sheffield-Waveland Rooftops, Inc. "We’re excited to offer a selection of 10 unique rooftops that will provide an enjoyable experience for customers with all needs."

The Loukas name should sound familiar to you. George Loukas runs several bars in the area (most prominently, the Cubby Bear) and owned some of the rooftop clubs before selling out to the Ricketts family.

The Ricketts family and the Cubs gain another advantage by running these clubs under a company separate from the baseball team. By doing so, any revenue coming from the rooftops doesn't have to be shared under MLB's usual revenue-sharing policies.

As of now, there are still people living in apartments of various types in every one of these buildings. The Ricketts' company could continue to do that, as rentals in Wrigleyville can be pretty lucrative, or they could eventually have other uses for the rest of the space in the buildings.

In any case, the endgame as I have predicted seems closer. The Ricketts will eventually wind up controlling all the buildings, something Tribune Company could have done decades ago when they first bought the Cubs (and at a much lower cost).

UPDATE: I have learned that the apparent discrepancy between the Tribune article, which says the Ricketts family owns nine rooftops, while their new website says 10, isn't really a discrepancy at all. The Tribune is correct -- the Ricketts family does own nine rooftops. The 10th rooftop on the website is owned by George Loukas, who owns the management company that's running all 10 rooftops. Hope that clears things up.