SBD/January 28, 2013/Facilities

Cubs, Nearby Rooftop Owners In Disagreement Over Proposed Billboards At Wrigley

Sixteen separate rooftop clubs comprise the Wrigley Rooftop Association
George Loukas, owner of three of the 16 rooftop clubs which are adjacent to the Cubs' Wrigley Field and have unimpeded views into the stadium, "threatened to sue the team if it erects billboards in the outfield that block rooftop views," according to Sachdev & Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Loukas and other owners of the rooftop clubs, who formed a "loosely knit association" entitled the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association, "offered to let the Cubs place signs on their buildings and forego all the revenues the signs would generate." However, the Cubs "did not warmly receive the proposal." Cubs Owner the Ricketts family spokesperson Dennis Culloton said, "If the rooftop owners have a new plan, they would be well advised to discuss it with the team instead of holding press conferences, because a deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city of Chicago to move forward." The rooftop owners said that they "presented a general outline of their plan three months ago in a private meeting with Cubs' officials as well as at a meeting the local alderman held Wednesday night that team representatives attended." The owners of the clubs, who share a portion of their ticket sales with the team, contended that the new signs will "put them out of business." Cubs ownership wants to "install more and bigger signs but haven't provided details about where they would be placed." The most "obvious, and lucrative, position would be along the back of the bleachers, which could potentially block the bird's-eye views from the rooftops." Loukas said that, without those views, the rooftop businesses "don't have much to sell." They "proposed to let the Cubs sell advertising on their buildings that would been seen on several digital screens." They also "hired a marketing consultant who calculated that rooftop signs would generate $10 million to $20 million in annual revenue." But Culloton said that the team would "bring in more money from advertising atop the back wall of the bleachers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/26).

PLAN OF ACTION: ESPN CHICAGO's Jesse Rogers reported the Rooftop Association's plan "calls for both LED and static ads to be placed on the facades of the rooftop buildings outside the ballpark." The general size of the LEDs would be "20 feet by 7 feet and all ads would be sold and maintained by the Cubs" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 1/25). In Chicago, Fran Spielman reported the rooftop owners argued that any attempt by the Cubs to block their views would "violate the 2004 ordinance that landmarked historic elements of Wrigley Field as well as their 20-year agreement with the Cubs." Loukas said, "We have an agreement with a few more years left. We have a right to defend our position." Loukas noted that rooftop owners have "spent $50 million to bring their buildings up to the city's rigid safety standards." Murphy's Bleachers Owner Beth Murphy said that signs inside the ballpark "violate the 'spirit of the settlement' that resolved rooftop wars" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/26).

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