Wrigleyville Rooftop Club Owners Offer Compromise To Cubs Billboard Proposal
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 25, 2013 7:00PM
AP File Photo
The owners of the rooftop clubs surrounding Wrigley Field formally announced a plan aimed at protecting their unfettered access inside Wrigley Field while generating revenue for the Chicago Cubs via billboard advertising.
Instead of relaxing the landmark status on Wrigley Field so that the Cubs can generate the cash needed to renovate the ballpark, rooftop club owners proposed erecting billboards above the rooftops. DNAINfo Chicago reported the plan was first introduced earlier this week during a meeting of the 44th Ward Community Directed Development Council. Rooftop Club owners announced at a news conference this morning the plan could generate $17.9 million annually, all of it to be controlled by the Cubs and the city.
Here’s where the problem lies: The $300 million Cubs renovation proposal, which doesn’t require taxpayer funding, calls for generating even more revenue from billboard advertising raised within the ballpark. That advertising is more valuable when it’s inside the ballpark, within easy range of television cameras. While the rooftop owners plan sounds like the first step toward a compromise, the ballclub’s response to it is lukewarm. Team spokesman Julian Green told DNAInfo, “Any signs outside the ballpark offer a significantly reduced value given the limited TV exposure.”
Beth Murphy of Murphy’s Bleachers told media at the news conference the plan was a “win-win or the rooftops, community, City Hall and the Cubs.” But mainly the rooftops.
Overall, rooftop club owners estimate they’ll generate $185 million to Chicago’s economy over the next 20 years, with $70 million earmarked to the Cubs. Under the terms of the current revenue sharing agreement between the two sides, the Cubs receive 17 percent of revenues generated by the rooftop clubs each year. But as the Cubs’ on-field fortunes have declined, so have those of the rooftop clubs, who have faced declining revenues and empty seats in recent years.
Sources told the Sun-Times Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who supports the Cubs renovation plans, is trying to broker a deal between the ballclub and the rooftop owners where a percentage of billboard revenue will be shared.