Why I won’t buy rooftop tickets anymore, and you shouldn’t either

Hey Cubs fans, are you ready to talk about some Chicago Cubs baseball!?!?!  I know I am! Because the good news just keeps on coming!

Cubs fans all day yesterday.

Cubs fans all day yesterday.

Cubs fans on Twitter have non-affectionately christened Wednesday, January 22, 2014, as “Black Wednesday.” As if losing out on Tanaka to the Yankees wasn’t bad enough, this fun news followed right on its heels:

Talks between the Cubs and rooftop owners are at an impasse amid the first legal shot, continued disagreement over outfield advertising signs and convention weekend rhetoric.

As a result, the much-hyped $300 million Wrigley Field renovation — and the revenue it would bring to improve the team — remains in limbo, with Cubs ownership still trying to persuade the surrounding rooftop clubs to drop threats of a lawsuit before it begins construction.

Differences over the size and placement of a video scoreboard the Cubs would like install in left field brought the negotiations to a standstill Tuesday, said Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, who has been meeting with both sides since late last year to help reach an agreement at the behest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Against that backdrop, rooftop owners sent a message by filing a lawsuit that doesn’t involve signs that could block their views.

The rooftop owners sued Marc Ganis, a Chicago sports business consultant, for making allegedly false statements about them in an article published in the Chicago Sun-Times in January 2013. In the story, Ganis is quoted as saying the rooftop clubs were “stealing” the Cubs product for their own profit.

In the suit, rooftop owners said those statements were false and harmed their reputations because they have a contractual arrangement with the team that allows them to sell tickets to people who want bird’s-eye views of the games. Ganis did not return several messages seeking comment.

So that’s lots of fun. The Ricketts refuse to start construction until the rooftop owners agree not to sue, and the owners have decided to sue, but so far only for defamation, because that’s oh-so-important at this stage in the game. If I was advising the Cubs, I’d tell them to start building and let the rooftops sue. Go to court and let the chips falls where they may. The Ricketts have plenty of money to out-litigate the rooftop owners, or at least keep them in court until they run out of money and give up.

Look, the Cubs made a terrible decision when they entered into the revenue-sharing agreement with the rooftop owners. It was short-sighted and so focused on “stop profiting off my product” that it failed to take anything the Cubs might want to do in the future. Not surprisingly, Crane Kenny was involved in negotiating both deals, and think we all know he’s not the brightest bulb on the tree.  At any rate, the Cubs entered into a valid contract, and, unless they’re willing to take their chances in court, they’re stuck with it.

All that said, I’m a fan, and I want my team to win. I believe that, in order to win, my team needs to increase revenue (to be able to increase payroll) and renovate the stadium (in order to make Wrigley Field a more attractive place to play baseball for free agents). The rooftop owners, on the other hand, want to make money, as is their right. They don’t care about the team winning (well, maybe in the sense that no one goes to the games when the team is losing), they care about getting people onto the rooftops. If that means no renovation to Wrigley, or no video board, then so be it.

While the Cubs have a deal with the rooftops, I do not. I don’t owe them anything, and I don’t have to spend my money there or at the street-level bars they own. And, even though I’ve really loved spending time on the rooftops and I think they’re one of the cool things about Wrigley Field, I won’t. Not anymore. Something in this stupid battle has to give. Both sides have to find a way to agree, and, while it pains me to agree with Cubs management on anything, I believe the renovation is important and necessary. Maybe if enough of us feel that way and take our business elsewhere, the rooftop owners will find a way to work around the video board. Is that fair to the rooftops in light of the contract the Cubs voluntarily signed? Probably not. But the only thing I care about when it comes to the Cubs is winning a World Series. And while it could happen without the renovation, I think the renovation is necessary to be able to compete in the future. God knows I don’t want my kids to have to endure a lifetime of losing, like I have.

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the good news that Baseball Prospectus has ranked the Cubs farm system as the #2 system in baseball. Jason Parks has ranked the Cubs prospects this year as follows:

1.   Javier Baez
2.  Kris Bryant
3.  Albert Almora
4.  Jorge Soler
5.  CJ Edwards
6.  Arismendy Alcantra
7.  Pierce Johnson
8.  Dan Vogelbach
9.  Christian Villanueva
10. Jeimer Candelario

Parks also lists Mike Olt, Arodys Vizcaino, and Neil Ramirez as players expected to contribute to at the major league level in 2014.

Other Cubs tidbits this morning include contrasting reports on what the Cubs actually bid on Tanaka. Reports yesterday had the Cubs around the 6-year, $150M mark, but today Patrick Mooney of CSN reports that the Cubs bid was closer to 6 years for $120M. This has lead to much speculation that the non-baseball operations side of the Cubs was talking about the bid in order to stir up optimism ahead of the Cubs Convention.

Hey, head on over to LOHO’s Facebook page and give us a like! We post tidbits there all day long. And make sure to follow Julie and Carl on Twitter!

If you’re on Twitter, give @mike_is_bored a follow for making this awesome graphic for me:


36 thoughts on “Why I won’t buy rooftop tickets anymore, and you shouldn’t either

  1. Good post, Julie. I’m going to share this with the Ivy Envy readers and listeners. We don’t talk much about the politics of Wrigleyville because we aren’t from the Chicago area and…well, if you’re not from Chicago, how politics and deals work up there is pretty baffling.

    I agree with you on taking a stand against the rooftops. I haven’t watched a game from a rooftop and until things change, I won’t.

  2. dabirdguy says:

    Lets go Wheaton Cubs!

  3. Peter V. Bella says:

    I would never go to watch a ball game anywhere other than in a ball park.

  4. juliedicaro says:

    I’ll be honest, I really LIKE watching games from the rooftops. They’re fun, inexpensive, and unique to Wrigley. I just want this thing settled.

  5. Doc Blume says:

    It sounds like the Rays are going to be making a big announcement shortly. Money is on a Price trade or extension or a Maddon extention. Slight chance it is a stadium deal.

  6. Linda Eaton says:

    even if
    i didn’t have season tickets, i would not support the people whose actions are miking it impossible for Cubs to improve

  7. juliedicaro says:

    Listening to Jason Parks talk about the Cubs’ prospects on The Score. Lots of guys set to come up in 2014 or 2015. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel from here. If they pan out, of course.

    1. Dusty Baylor says:

      I couldn’t figure out last year why, with Darwin “My Glove is Gold” Barney was so bad….why Logan Watkins didn’t get more of a shot. I know he struggle some in AAA, but was POY in 2012, and looked like at least like he deserved a chance. Now he might be passed up by Arismendy Alcantara.

  8. juliedicaro says:

    John Arguello and I apparently had the same thing on our minds this morning:


  9. Natty says:

    Rooftops use Wrigley as a backdrop to their “bars in the sky”. Would an obstructed view really be a deal breaker to the owners for the crowds they are attracting? Most people are just happy to be on a rooftop in the summer where drinks and food are included…and *maybe* glance at the field. The TVs have the game on and people are often mingling more than being entertained by baseball. So is there really an issue here to be fighting over? Essentially its a private location made available to the public for a jacked up price because it’s across the street from the field.

  10. Doc Blume says:

    I know this is a different management team running this team, but the Cubs track record for having prospects pan out is so poor, it’s hard for me to believe that the light you speak of is actually the end of the tunnel. To me, it’s more likely an oncoming train.

  11. juliedicaro says:

    Also, the Brewers have signed Matt Garza. Ha.

  12. juliedicaro says:

    But the system of evaluating prospects has evolved so much since the days of Mike Harkey, Corey Patterson, and even Felix Pie. And the Cubs finally hired someone on the cutting edge of the industry. And impartial sources are telling us how good these guys are. I’m excited.

  13. Doc Blume says:

    Natty…that have been my argument for a while.

    I truly and honestly believe that for the rooftop owners, this has nothing to really do with obstructed views (they’ve had obstructed views as it is since they opened).

    For the rooftop owners they are threatened by two things:

    1. The renovations. Julie disagrees with me on this, but I believe they are concerned that the renovations, as laid out, are being done to directly compete with the rooftops. The Cubs are looking to offer being party decks, pubs, restaurants and other options that will pretty much match what the rooftops offer. But the Cubs will be able to do it better, with more food options, better views of the game and even cheaper prices. Sure, often times Wrigley will be sold out and the rooftops will still be able to sell their product, but the rooftop owners can’t stay in business by selling out their tickets on weekends and holidays.

    2. 2023. The deal with the rooftops ends after the 2023 season. The rooftop owners have stated before that they want, as part of any agreement, that contract to be extended and extended for a very long time. The Cubs will refuse to do that and are hoping that after 2023, they will be able to do a heck of a lot more in the outfield than just put up a video board and a see through Budweiser sign. As things stand right now, after 2023, the Cubs will drive the rooftop owners out of business, and they will have very few obstacles to stop them.

    Obstructed views are being paraded as the rallying cry for the rooftops because that is the only thing they have to really use as fuel in their fight.

  14. Doc Blume says:

    I don’t really care about how the system evaluates prospects. I have seen very little to convince me that this system is preparing prospects to play at the major league level any better than it did before.

    Now a big difference between now and 10 years ago is the pure numbers of prospects the Cubs potentially have that could make seriously good contributions to the major league level. Odds are, a couple of them will actually pan out, but for us to think that Baez, Almora, Bryant, Soler, Edwards and so on will all be successful is being naive. The Cubs have maybe 5 players at the major league level who potentially are long term solutions…Castro, Rizzo, Castillo, Wood and maybe Samardzija. That’s a lot of holes to fill and as of right now, the Cubs really need every single one of those prospects to pan out to create a roster that could compete with the Cardinals. I’m not holding my breath.

    I’m not sure why I’m in such a downer mood today. I apologize.

  15. Doc Blume says:

    I also have a theory that the rooftops are reluctant to actually sue the Cubs over the renovations because the truth is, the likely outcome is not that the renovations will be halted or altered, but rather, they would get a financial settlement out of the deal, and the contract they have with the Cubs will then be terminated.

    I don’t think they’d want that to happen.

    The truth of the matter is, I believe the rooftop owners are screwed no matter what they do now and they are looking to take anyone they can (like Marc Ganis) down with them.

  16. Doc Blume says:

    In other news, supposedly Greg Maddux wishes to go into the Hall of Fame with no logo on his cap. That’s extremely diplomatic of him…though he really should go in as a Brave.

  17. NotAgain says:

    For the love of God, Mark, PLEASE fix the nesting comments so we can at least have a chance of making sense of what the fuck Doc is writing!!! :-)

  18. NotAgain says:

    So I still don’t get it: WHY are the Cubs not starting construction because of the defamation suit that’s not even against them??

  19. JoePepitone says:

    Julie — a recovering lawyer? I’ve been using that line for a while myself. From a legal standpoint, I think the Cubs should just move ahead with their renovations and pay whatever damages the roofies can prove. I’m not so sure they can prove much in the way of actual lost income due to the impaired views. Their income has to drop — not a certainty — and it has to be caused by the view obstruction, not because of the team’s drop in popularity due to their losing record. I’m not persuaded that the renovations will block that much more of the view than there is now, nor that the additional obstruction will change the rooftop experience much for the fans who go there. Just my take on it.

    People act like a contract is sacred. It isn’t. It’s a commercial agreement and if the Cubs no longer find it advantageous, they have the right to walk away from it and pay the rooftops for their actual, provable losses. The contract was going to end in 2023 anyway, so they can’t claim a loss of property value after that date or a perpetual right to a view of the field.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I wish I could get worked up about the rooftop owners, but I can’t believe anyone would give them a plug nickel or moments notice about the renovation! They don’t own Wrigley, or the Cubs, and don’t have a right to stop any renovation of the stadium! Wrigley was there before the bleachers and/or rooftop seats and for them to be given any kind of power is stupid.

  21. juliedicaro says:

    Joe–THANK YOU! That’s what I’ve been saying for months and months! I totally agree.

  22. Doc Blume says:

    Joe, this is why I don’t think the rooftop owners have actually sued at this point. They have no proof that they’ve been harmed as of yet. We’ve heard more and more details about what is actually in the contract and I’ve heard from multiple sources now that the contract stipulates that the Cubs can make any changes they what, regardless of the affect on the rooftops as long as the changes have government approval.

    The result is that any lawsuit would probably have to include the City as a defendant.

    I also heard, and you’d know better than I would, that any lawsuit filed against the Cubs would have a small probability of causing the entire renovation project to be halted.

    All this does get back to your point…what are the Cubs waiting for then?

    Honestly…after seeing everything here, I don’t really know. It does appear likely that the Budweiser ad in right field is going to go up possibly as soon as this spring, and that sign will result in a revenue boost that will help the Ricketts family finance the renovation. It seems really strange that if the Cubs are indeed committed to staying at Wrigley, why haven’t they started building the new player facilities and such?

  23. juliedicaro says:

    They’re being advised by someone who is terrified of litigation. I hate attorneys like that.

    1. JoePepitone says:

      “They’re being advised by someone who is terrified of litigation.”

      I agree. And maybe they are concerned about the PR — non-lawyers look at breach of contract differently from lawyers and business people.

  24. Doc Blume says:

    I’ve been thinking…maybe it’s Papa Ricketts that is delaying the whole thing. Besides, it’s his money the family will use to do the renovations. Maybe he’s the one that refuses to give over the money until everything is settled.

  25. dabirdguy says:

    Does anyone know if those offers to move to the boonies are still open?

  26. Doc Blume says:

    I don’t think anything formal has ever been presented, but if the Cubs begin to listen, they would probably have over a half a dozen offers from different suburbs on their desk within a day, including Rosemont, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, and Aurora.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Naperville I would imagine as well. Lots of open land, lots of ways to get there.

    1. I actually don think their is anymore developable commercial land left in Naperville. At least not enough for a project of this size.

  28. juliedicaro says:

    I can only imagine the hell that 88 would become with people trying to get to a game in Naperville.

  29. Doc Blume says:

    It looks like the Brewers might actually be having second thoughts about Garza. They have publicly stated that they don’t have a deal with him yet. It’s very unusual that a team would publicly make a statement like that.

  30. Anonymous says:

    How many of the rooftop owners are are actually living in the building as many people did years ago. I believe that they ( Cubs ) should opt out of the dumb deal with these other businesses and have the buildings become residences again. Like they were when I grew up coming to the Cubs games

  31. frysredjacket says:

    So…Have I missed much?
    I think I will send this post and the one at OV to all the knucklehead Brewer fans who could not understand my frustration yesterday and today. Gah! I hate living north of the cheddar curtain anymore.
    Well done CJ, you make purty words.

  32. John Bridges says:

    How about not going AT ALL until they improve the team? Let the tourists come, it will still be over a million people a year. But the prices fans pay for a minor league operation is outrageous to say rhe least.

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