Wrigley Rooftop Clubs are Striking Out

By Sean Stillmaker in News on Aug 15, 2010 3:00PM

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As the Cubs continue their tradition of losing, it’s the businesses centered around them that are hurting the most with this year’s dismal record. Wrigley attendance is down 3.6 percent from last year and the rooftop clubs are slashing prices for the first time trying to make ends meet. “There’s a lot of money going out and only some coming in,” the managing partner of Skybox rooftop told the Tribune.

The sluggish economy and the team’s losing record has discouraged companies from buying tickets for rooftop summer corporate outings. So rooftops allegedly began utilizing ticket brokers and selling tickets on the day of games, which is in violation of the city’s rooftop ordinance. Down the Line rooftop, which received investment money from the new Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, has tickets available on discount sites for as low as $59. In June, the Cubs threatened legal action against the rooftop owners, even though the Cubs still profit off their sales. Part of their 2004 agreement is rooftop owners pay the Cubs 17 percent of their revenues; in 2007 rooftops generated $18 million.

However, this year’s dwindling ticket sales make it hard for rooftops to pay the costly monthly mortgages. In April the Lakeview Baseball Club had a foreclosure suit filed, and the bank is seeking $2.5 million. To boost business rooftop owners want to open ground level shops, but are currently prevented by special zoning restrictions. Lucky for them they have clout on their side. Since 2003 the rooftops have donated more than $160,000 in campaign donations to Ald. Tom Tunney and even host fundraisers for him out of their own pocket. For better times, the rooftops will just have to wait until next year.