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