Cubs, Rooftop Owners Continue Battle For Home Field Advantage
By Selena Fragassi in News on Mar 24, 2015 6:15PM
Empty stands at the Sept. 3 game against the Mets.
The Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field’s neighboring rooftop owners are at it again, bringing their latest war of words before a federal judge Monday in a rambling seven-hour discussion about the ongoing renovations at the historic ballpark.
Rooftop businesses Skybox on Sheffield and Lakeview Baseball Club alleged that the Cubs’ new 2,250-square-foot video board and attached sign from sponsor Anheuser-Busch, located in right field, would hamper their views and lead to possible bankruptcy and foreclosure of their buildings. They asked for another hearing to halt to the installation, after previously being denied an emergency order in months prior.
The team’s attorney, Andrew Kassof, attempted to silence the two’s financial distress call, pointing to bank records and recent royalty payments made to the Cubs organization that he said were evidence of a healthy cash flow.
Both sides also disagreed about verbiage in their contracted agreements. “The rooftop businesses say signs are not an expansion of the ballpark and therefore should be prohibited. Cubs attorneys argue signs are an expansion — their exhibits include pages from a dictionary with the word's definition,” noted the Tribune. “The rooftops have separately accused the team of engaging in anti-competitive behavior while trying to create a price-fixing scheme with the rooftops, violating terms of the agreement.”
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has already bought out three rooftop businesses and has been trying to secure more, but the holdouts don’t seem to be going anywhere. The team asked for the suit to be tossed but neither side got its way just yet. Judge Virginia Kendall did not vote on the measure on Monday but said she would do so quickly.
Ricketts wants the board installed by opening day, April 5, but with the haphazard way the renovations are already going at Wrigley Field, rooftop owners should be able to buy some time. The anchor of the construction located in the bleacher section is months behind, with full completion on the left field scheduled to be done in May and the right field not ready until June. This represents a loss of 5,000 seats for the team. The Cubs sold minority shares to finance the overhaul and even considered playing a season in Milwaukee because of the dramatic loss in revenue, so don’t expect them to give up this fight just yet.
While we wait it out, check out some pretty cool aerial views of the renovations in progress, shared last week by Sports Illustrated, below: