Chicago Cubs: Legal battle with rooftop owners continues

Throw legal agreements out the door. The Chicago Cubs have made it clear that they plan to finish construction regardless of what their rooftop neighbors think. When it comes down to it, we should be asking one simple question. Who needs who more?

The contract that rooftop owners and Cubs ownership signed into was to ensure that everyone was getting a fair portion of revenues. According to CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan reporting in 2014, in exchange for prime real estate overlooking the field and team sponsored marketing, the rooftops would hand over 17% of their annual revenues.

Since The Ricketts family purchased the team in 2009, updating the historic ballpark has been a priority. If you have ever attended a game at Wrigley Field, then you will understand that a facelift is badly needed. Outdated restroom facilities, cramped concession stands, a crumbling foundation and a narrowed concourse area to name a few.

An updated ballpark with state-of-the-art technology and increased seating capacity would only add to the revenues the team is bringing in. It’s not a stretch to assume that with the increased traffic for the stadium, the surrounding neighborhood will benefit as well.

Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this Agreement-Cubs Rooftop Agreement

Fast forward to present day, and we find ourselves again watching as the Chicago Cubs’ brass and rooftop owners fight over an expansion. Cubs fans have enjoyed the atmosphere and experience the rooftops have to offer, but it comes at a premium. The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of an issue that is unique only to them. While the team is insistent the improvements need to be made, they are attempting to do so with their fans, neighbors and taxpayers in mind.

Without the expansion of the bleachers or the upgrades in other various parts of the facility, it is quite possible to think that the team would have no choice but to relocate. Let’s take a look at the impact that would have on the neighborhood.

Mar 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view as construction and renovation work continues at Wrigley Field in advance of the MLB baseball season opener. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

First, we would have a neighborhood full of rooftop seats with nothing to look at. This is the point many owners have forgotten. The Cubs don’t need the rooftops to survive nor would they exist if anything else was located at 1060 West Addison. The influx of patrons and the thousands of tourists that flock to Chicago to see the iconic site would be left to go elsewhere. It would be unfair to say that Wrigleyville would be the same minus the team. However, take the Cubs out of the equation and the neighborhood might be like any other quieter part of the city.

Secondly, Tom Ricketts has established the ability to get the renovations done without the aid of taxpayer money. Yes, even in Illinois, this massive venture is being financed by the team. The much-needed changes will provide new revenue streaming that in the long run will make the team more profitable. That alone will increase the values of the properties around them. Wrigleyville became what it is by the mutual benefit that exists between the city and the team.

This is, of course, a simplified look at this issue. We aren’t talking about a minor dispute between neighbors over lost power tools. Millions and millions of dollars are at stake for both sides. Now is the time for fans to decide. Do we keep and support the rooftop owners, or do we support the team’s efforts to make this the premier destination on and off the field? The Chicago Cubs certainly have one vote.