In what could be one of the last remaining legal hurdles the Wrigley Field renovation project faces, the Chicago Cubs organization and two rooftop businesses are set to do battle in the courtroom early this week with plenty on the line.
The best read on the case can be found in the Chicago Tribune, courtesy of Jared S. Hopkins, who has extensively covered the legal battles surrounding the 1060 Project all winter long. In this instance, the focus of the case is the right-field signage – which would leave the massive video board unscathed – at least for the time being.
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Last month, a judge ruled against a group of rooftop owners seeking an emergency ruling that would have halted the installation and construction of the signage – including the massive left-field video board. Hopkins broke down just why the ruling favored the Cubs rather than the plaintiffs last month – and how it could shape the battle brewing this week in Chicago.
"She cited Skybox on Sheffield and the Lakeview Baseball Club — both rooftops are controlled by commodities trader Edward McCarthy — for failing to provide evidence that their operations would be destroyed by the presence of the signs, as claimed. Kendall, who sprinkled her comments in court over two days with baseball metaphors, expressed plans to resolve the case before opening day."
According to Hopkins, since then, legal teams have been hard at work for both sides – working to sculpt their arguments ahead of this week. There are multiple aspects to the contract – which was in place long before the Ricketts family purchased the team, including two main aspects of the deal that are under a microscope currently.
"The focus is on two sentences within the contract — one dealing with “windscreens or other barriers,” the other with the “expansion” of Wrigley Field. 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."
The bleacher construction is already months behind schedule – the last portion of which (right field) aren’t expected to be ready until late-May or mid-June; meaning the Opening Night festivities slated for two weeks from Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans in attendance.
This lawsuit could open the door to more legal challenges that could hinder future progress on the Wrigley Field renovation project, a troubling thought for Cubs’ ownership.
However, the video board in left field is expected to be ready ahead of that April 5 contest – and that board is also one of the most controversial aspects of the renovation, which is a complete overhaul of the 101-year-old stadium. The Cubs appear confident that the court will once again side with them; although things get interesting if the rooftops come out on top in the weeks to come.
What happens if the organization comes out on the wrong side of things in this latest legal challenge?
It appears that, at least in the short-term, the left-field signage and video board would be stopped. Obviously, the bleacher work could continue, given it’s simply replacing the former structure and does nothing to obstruct the views of the rooftop seats.
However, such a ruling could open the door to future challenges that could take aim at the 2,250 square-foot video board in left field; a troubling concern for an organization looking for more revenue sources moving forward.
While we’re all focused on the Opening Night matchup that’s likely to feature Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright on the hill for their respective clubs, this week’s case stands to throw a wrench in progress on the Wrigley Field renovation project.
But, for now, all we can do is sit and wait.