According to Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, the dispute between a handful of rooftop owners and the Chicago Cubs regarding the highly-anticipated $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field will be headed to the courts after recent talks ‘fell apart.’
On Wednesday, according to the report, the team “privately declared” their intention of applying for the necessary city permit that would allow them to place a 650-square-foot, see-through sign behind the right field bleachers that rooftop owners have repeatedly said will block their views.
Rooftop owners filed a defamation suit against “a stadium financing consultant who once advised the Cubs’ prior owner, Tribune Co.”
In the suit, Marc Ganis was accused of making “false and defamatory” statements in a January 2013 story in the Sun-Times.
“The only reason this deal is not happening is because (local alderman) Tom Tunney is protecting the rooftop owners and a couple of bar owners. This has to be one of the most ludicrous situations in the history of sports facility development.”
So what does this lawsuit mean for the Cubs’ renovation plans? More delays, according to Cubs spokesman Julian Green.
“We have worked hard to reach a resolution with our rooftop partners which would have helped preserve their views, including reducing the number, size and location of signs. Unfortunately, they opted yesterday to reject the proposal and file this lawsuit.”
According to the Sun-Times article, the Cubs were named in the lawsuit only as “respondents in delivery.” The team had been exploring several options to appease this disagreement, including reducing the team’s 17 percent stake in rooftop profits and even buying them out.
However, at the latest discussion talks on Tuesday, rooftop owners demanded that the video board slated for left field be moved to the top of a rooftop building – a request similar to one that was made in regards to the signage behind the right field bleachers last year.
This latest setback comes hot on the heels of the news that the team’s baseball operations staff fell short in their pursuit of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, leaving many to wonder just when the Cubs will start spending like a big market club.
It cannot be understated just how crucial the Wrigley Field renovation is for the on-field product fans will see. The project opens up several revenue streams that were previously untapped and would allow Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer much more financial flexibility and stability than they currently enjoy.
According to Tom Ricketts of the Cubs, the team will not begin any renovation project until the rooftop owners agree not to sue to block the outfield signage. The project was authorized by the Chicago City Council last summer.