SBD/March 25, 2013/Facilities

Wrigleyville Owners Fear Cubs Are Positioning To Buy Buildings

Some rooftop owners think Cubs' officials want to put them out of business
Cubs Owner the Ricketts family "set their sights on getting a bigger piece of Wrigleyville" shortly after buying the team in '09, according to Sachdev & Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. That makes the rooftop owners, who own businesses overlooking Wrigley Field, "perplexed." The rooftop owners are arguing that they are "willing to negotiate a new deal with the family that would preserve their sightlines, but they think they are being treated as interlopers, not the long-term partners they have been since before the Rickettses arrived on the scene." If ballpark signs "obstruct their views and drive the rooftops out of business, several of the property owners, who have taken out loans in recent years to renovate their buildings, worry that they might not be able to afford their mortgage payments." They have "expressed concern that the Ricketts family would be positioned to buy their distressed properties, move some of the outfield signs and reopen the rooftop businesses." George Loukas, owner of three of the 16 rooftop clubs, said, "Based on everything I've seen from the Ricketts family during this recent process, they are not interested in a true partnership. In fact, it appears they would like to put the rooftops out of business." The two sides are "barely talking to each other" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/24). In Chicago, John McCarron in a special writes the takeaway for Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts is to "think of the entire Clark and Addison scene as the big draw, not just his quaint ballpark and wait-until-next-year team." This means he should "agree to affix his hoped-for advertising signs on the facades of those apartment buildings across Sheffield and Waveland avenues … not on top of the outfield back-wall, where they'd block views from the rooftops." By being "agreeable," Ricketts would be "owed -- big time -- not just by the rooftop owners but also by Ald. Tom Tunney and, more important, Mayor Rahm Emanuel" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/25).

ROSEMONT-COLORED GLASSES? In Chicago, Rick Morrissey in regard to the city of Rosemont, Ill.'s efforts to lure the Cubs to the suburb wrote the more you "think about it and the more your blood boils about the alderman and his leasable soul, the more you start to think that this isn’t so silly, that maybe the Cubs should take their scoreboard and go to a new home along lovely Interstate 294." To say such a thing is "heresy, of course." But there are two things that "can’t be denied: (a) Ninety-nine-year-old Wrigley is a monument to decay, which is why the Ricketts family wants to renovate it; and (b) the rooftop owners, the ticks burrowed under the Cubs’ skin, aren’t going anywhere." However, the situation "likely won't get as far as Rosemont." It is "hard to see" Emanuel "allowing an alderman to drive away the Cubs and all the money they bring into the city" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/24). Also in Chicago, David Haugh wrote Ricketts "needs to seriously consider the plan" that "enthusiastic" Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens detailed. Stephens "offers the Cubs an incentive-laden option free of government restrictions." Haugh: "How refreshing: a politician who seeks creative ways to give the Cubs a chance to grow their business in a way that benefits everybody" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/24). The TRIBUNE is running a poll asking whether the Cubs should "consider moving to Rosemont." At presstime, 76% of 3,216 respondents voted "Yes," while 24% voted "No" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/24).
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