Tom Ricketts has had enough. And it only took him 16 months. Very late last night, a six minute video was released detailing the decision to move forward with the renovation, without a deal with the rooftop owners.
In the video, Ricketts says, “We’ve spent endless hours negotiating with rooftop businesses. We’ve gotten nowhere in our talks with them to settle this dispute. It has to end. It’s time to move forward. I have to put the team and the fans first.”
There is a new plan, which will now include up to seven signs in the outfield. The left field video board would be reduced to just under 4000 square feet, and an additional 2400 square foot sign in right field. The plan also adds a row of seats to the bleachers and adds seats to the bullpen area, while eliminating some of the standing room seats in the terrace reserved section. The capacity of the park would be unchanged. One of the most striking differences would be the bullpens no longer being on the field, as they would be moved under the field to accommodate additional seating. Other revisions to the plan are to further expand the Cubs’ clubhouse to 30,000 square feet, up from the 19,000 that was approved last summer and expand the visitors’ clubhouse.
With the increases and locations of the signage in the outfield, it does look like the Cubs are abandoning any efforts to compromise with the rooftop owners. While renderings for these signs are not yet available, the increase in signs can’t help the views from across the street. In every way, it would appear that the Cubs are going after everything they want without regard to the contract in place with the rooftops. It would also seem that the Cubs are using the term “expansion” in their upcoming legal battle with the rooftops. A version of the contract with the rooftop owners does read that “Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement.” With the footprint of the park being stretched, that appears to be the clause the Cubs will rely on, as the added signs would be a part of that expansion.
For their part, the rooftop association released the following: “Unfortunately, this decision by the Ricketts family will now result in this matter being resolved in a court of law. It appears their zeal to block rooftop owners who pay them millions of dollars a year in royalties knows no bounds.”
From here, the Cubs will propose the modifications of the plan to the landmarks committee on June 5. If approval is secured there, the next step would likely be to fight the rooftops in court. Since the renovations would probably not start until the end of the season, there would be a few months to work with in the court system, although with their typical speed, it could likely last much longer.
Should the Cubs lose in court or fail to gain approval from the landmarks committee, the next step could be moving out of Wrigley Field altogether. It would seem if the renovation is blocked by the courts permanently, the logical next step would be to look to the suburbs. In any event, the Cubs making this move is long overdue. And regardless of the outcome, we move closer to a conclusion.