After the events of the Cubs Convention and some stalled negotiations with the rooftops, it appears that the Cubs are forcing the issue of renovation by formally applying for a permit to erect the 650 square-foot right field sign. You may have seen the mockup late last year while the landmark restrictions were relaxed and the project appeared to be going forward until Tom Ricketts elected to stall the renovations to ensure that the rooftops would not sue.
The rooftops did in fact threaten a lawsuit against the Cubs and filed suit last week despite the Cubs’ confidence that a deal could be reached. The article from Crain’s about the sign permit suggests that the Cubs are being the aggressors here, basically daring the rooftops to go ahead and sue. At that point (and I’m not a lawyer), it would be a matter of the judge determining whether or not the Cubs or the rooftops had a case, or potentially dismissing the suit entirely. If anyone has ideas on this front, we’d be happy to hear them.
With pressure from the city and alderman, as well as from fans, to start the renovations, it seems that the odds are in the Cubs’ favor even with the rooftops having an advantage with the contract language that was set up a decade ago. Honestly, we have no idea how much leverage the rooftops have, but its not insignificant based on the great delay in getting the project jumpstarted. Stay tuned as we track what will happen if the Cubs get their permit and wait for the rooftops’ response.
Quickie Update 12:45 PM: Danny Ecker reminds us that even with this development, the resolution talks are ongoing:
Worth noting re: Cubs permit filing — the team and rooftop owners are scheduled to meet again this wk to continue resolution talks
— Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) January 27, 2014
Get it done, Wrigleyvillians.
Quickie Update 2 at 12:52 PM: The Tribune has some quotes from Cubs personnel about the application for the permit. You can read it here. The relevant part:
“Since last summer, we always stated our intent to move forward with this sign in right field prior to the 2014 season, and we were hopeful we could reach a resolution at the negotiating table,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. “But given the rejection of our proposal and last week’s legal action, it certainly appears we are going to be met with some resistance, so we are planning on moving forward with this sign.”
“We are still interested in a solution that doesn’t involve the courts,” Green added, saying a meeting is scheduled for later this week between team and rooftop club representatives.
Green also said the effort to get the script sign up should not be considered a signal that the team is ready to move forward with the entire renovation.
The gist from my point of view: “We know you guys (the rooftops) suck, so we’re going to start building anyway and just keep going until we either reach a resolution or you guys decide to sue so we can out-lawyer you.” It seems a logical first step since there is some resistance to outfield signage, but if they’re going to go ahead and put this sign up, maybe the resistance isn’t as strong as if they had put up a video board.
UPDATE 1:04 PM: Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times adds details to the developing story. As previously stated, the new RF sign will likely obscure some of the rooftop views even if the outfield walls are moved out, but the Cubs don’t seem to care at this point. It also sounds like there were near resolutions for the Sheffield side rooftops until the Waveland side rooftops decided to balk at their part of the deal. Re-reading the details suggests that the Sheffield rooftops might be okay with the sign, which is why the Cubs filed the permit on Friday, but there will be issues to be resolved with the Waveland rooftops still. Ugh.
UPDATE 3:17 PM: That was fast. Fran Spielman updated her Sun-Times story from above with this:
Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said the Cubs’ permit application means: Game on.
Rooftop club owners “assembled a legal team quite some time ago in preparation” for a court fight, sources said.
“Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs [that has nearly 10 years to run]. We will proceed accordingly,” McLaughlin said.
“This is an unfortunate turn of events because our hope was to find a solution to this matter.”
In addition, Greg Hinz tweets:
— Greg Hinz (@GregHinz) January 27, 2014