Today the rooftop association threw out a scare tactic (please don’t kill our business) press release. As a part of the press release, the rooftop owners graciously told the Chicago Cubs
Rooftops owners release counter offensive, saying Cubs can start rehab of clubhouses, restrooms w/o renegotiating landmark ordinance.
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) March 26, 2013
How gracious of them to give the Ricketts family permission to do whatever they wanted to do with their own product. Of course doing so would be shooting themselves in the foot. Proceeding with the renovation plans before getting final permission from the city would take away any and all leverage the Ricketts family may have, and the rooftop owners know this.
While they are correct, that the team can proceed with the first leg in their renovation plans without messing with the landmark status, doing so would put the ball squarely in the rooftop owners court, leaving the Cubs and the Ricketts family squarely behind the 8-ball.
How so? If the Cubs move forward with the plan of remodeling the clubhouses and all in stadium they are investing a lot more money in the park making, which means there is even less of a chance they move to a new location. They would practically be throwing money away if they remodeled the clubhouses and did not get complete permission to do the other changes and then decided to move. The rooftop owners know this, and that is why they decided to throw the Cubs that very small bone.
However, the Ricketts family and the Cubs might have one more card up their sleeve that may not have been thought of. While I have absolutely no idea what the contract between the Cubs and the rooftops, or how things are worded, there may very well be a loophole in place that can ensure the team can do whatever they please with their ballpark.
The Cubs could in fact still put up all the advertising they wanted, without completely blocking the rooftop views of the on field product. The team could install a jumbotron, billboards and whatever else they want. If the rooftops complain or try to sue for the rights to the product, there is a perfectly good counter argument that could be made.
Ricketts could add everything they want to add, exactly where they want to add it and telling the rooftop owners to deal with the situation. Obviously, the Ricketts family would have to find a better way to word that in a way which sounds better. Such as, “With the proper work on your end, you still will be able to view our product.” All the rooftop owners would have to do would be to build higher bleachers on their rooftops and they would still be able to view the game. Who knows, perhaps higher bleachers would even give them a better view of the Cubs product. They already invested $50 some million dollars into building up their business in order to pirate the Cubs product, what is a few more million?
If any of this is legal, I have no idea. I am not a lawyer, nor do I know what zoning laws say about how high the bleachers can be. But, in theory this is an idea that could possibly have legs. Again, I have no idea if this is even legal with the wording that resides in the contract (if you are a lawyer, or know the law at all, please tell me if this would be possible).
This saga is likely far from over, despite the Ricketts family’s April 1st deadline. In the end, one of two things will need to happen. Either Tom Ricketts is going to have to make a significant contribution to Alderman Tom Tunney’s campaign fund or Mayor Rahm Emanuel is going to have to get involved and go over Tunney ‘s head; which he is able to do, he just wants the Cubs and the rooftops to come to an agreement.
With the press release from the rooftops though, an agreement seems to still be very far off.