Today marks the lunar new year, the first day of the Year of the Goat (or sheep, or ram, depending on your thesaurus use) in the Chinese Zodiac. With every new year (even if it’s in the middle of February for some of us uncultured swine) comes a new feeling of hope and that good things are coming.
Take Anthony Rizzo, for example:
Rizzo: renovations, videoboard provide better experience for players, fans without losing tradition of Wrigley
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 19, 2015
Why did I start with that one instead of something about how the team is going to be really good (at least the rotation anyway)? Well, let’s go through our series of tweets…
Breaking: Judge denies rooftops’ request for temporary restraining order on Wrigley Field OF signage. — Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) February 19, 2015
No TRO for rooftops. An expedited injunction hearing on RF videoboard is next.
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) February 19, 2015
I invite you to read through the various Chicago media outlets’ articles on the ruling (Tribune, Sun-Times, Crain’s) but the gist is pretty much the same. The rooftops couldn’t prove irreparable damage in the event of no temporary restraining order, but the judge wanted to be thorough and make sure both sides got time to make additional arguments. I guess it was good that the Cubs were proactive and responded to the rooftops suit right away. From Danny Ecker:
But denying the restraining order was only an intermediate step in a larger legal battle between the Cubs and the rooftop group, which is led by rooftop business owners Ed McCarthy and includes partners Mark Schlenker and Marc Hamid. The long-term threat to the team’s signage plan comes from a pending motion for an injunction.
Which leads us to this:
Next step for Cubs/rooftops: Preliminary injunction hearing on March 23rd. — Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) February 19, 2015
We have over a month to go until this next hearing, which is probably enough time for the rooftops to try to mount one last gasp at derailing the Cubs’ renovation plans, or for the two sides to settle out of court and make that hearing unnecessary. Based on lawyer Twitter, it is very rare to deny a temporary restraining order (TRO) and then grant an injunction, but note that they didn’t say “impossible” here. That means there’s a small chance that the rooftops can mount that last gasp. As Brett at Bleacher Nation was wondering:
That sets up a question, then: if the signs were due to go up long before that date, do the Cubs wait pending the resolution of that hearing (in case they’d have to take the signs back down)? Or do they proceed full bore? Remember, one of the right field signs is a video board, which I can’t imagine is super simple to take up and down. I’m just thinking out loud.
Oh, and, as always, the possibility of a settlement before then remains on the table. The Cubs just picked up a teeny, tiny bit of leverage.
Here’s the part from Ecker’s report that is very important to consider:
The rooftop owners are seeking to permanently prevent the Cubs from constructing the new video board, and the judge left the door open to receive more evidence and argument from the rooftop group at an injunction hearing set for March 23, calling the dispute “an intriguing issue.”
Now I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to be, so I’m not versed in the ways of the courts and rulings and contracts and other crap like the big stars in Cubs Lawyer Twitter. But my feeling is that if the rooftops couldn’t even convince the judge to set up the TRO, then the Cubs hold much more leverage than maybe even Brett is suggesting due to the rarity of subsequently granting the injunction. The part where the judge said it was “intriguing” just seems like morbid curiosity, like, “Hey I wonder what their lawyers will cook up this time?”
Assuming that the lawyers for the rooftops are unable to bring up a new angle, I’m curious to see what the Cubs do next as Brett was wondering above. I think the signs in question only deal with the right field side, where we note that the Cubs would block some as-yet-unsold rooftops with that sign. That wouldn’t mess with the left field sign (again, just from my uninformed non-lawyer opinion) and the Cubs construction could continue on that front. But if the Cubs also put up the right field sign anyway? They wouldn’t do that if there was a chance they would have to take them down, but then again, the signs on the right field side weren’t going to be ready until May anyway, which is long after the hearing re: injunction. So my thinking is that they put up the left field Jumbotron and wait a bit on the right field sign. Or they might just say “whatever” and do everything because they are confident of their chances of winning, which I figured was the case when they started ripping up the bleachers in the first place.
The rooftops have a month to figure out their next plan of attack. In the meantime, I think we can laugh a bit about the TRO. You know, trololololol.