Posted March 14, 2014

Wrigley Field upgrades still locked in rooftop squabble

Chicago Cubs, Stadiums

Apparently a potential 650-square-foot see-through sign in Wrigley Field’s rightfield hasn’t gone over so well with the roughly 16 rooftop owners on Waveland and Sheffield avenues. Of course, the giant leftfield video board — with advertising — was already a contentious issue, but negotiations between the Cubs and rooftop owners collapsed this week, which could delay even longer the team’s proposed renovations to the century-old ballpark.

As Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts continues to move toward his $300 million Wrigley Field upgrade project, the legal wrangling between the rooftop owners and the team hasn’t gone smoothly. Of course, Rickets comparing them to neighbors who pilfer your Showtime and the rooftop owners mentioning the Cubs in a defamation suit — not as defendants, but as respondents — hasn’t helped the bad blood. But what is really the issue here?

Ever since Wrigley Field opened in 1914 folks have tried to get a peek inside the ivy-covered walls for free. The owners of rooftops with views into the stadium’s outfield capitalized on that. But an official 20-year agreement with the team in 2004 put the two sides at ease, at least for the time being, allowing the rooftops to stay and giving the Cubs a 17 percent share in rooftop revenues.

But those signs. Those pesky signs. The Cubs say they need the video board and surrounding advertising and the already city-approved rightfield advertising signage to help pay for the renovations and improve the modernity of the stadium. Rooftop owners don’t want any potential view-obstructing additions.

But the roughly 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard in leftfield only stands as part of the larger plan that also includes a new three-story addition to the field that will expand clubhouse space, increase fan amenities and even add more in-game seating and suites.

Carl Rice, senior director of Wrigley Field event operations, says no matter the renovations to the underbelly, perimeter and even seating, the stadium’s feel won’t change.

“Whether 50 years ago or today, it has that same feel, the same proximity to the live action,” he says. “You can’t build charm and history, you need 100 years to do that, but of course all that space (of a modern park) makes you a little jealous.” By renovating, the club gets that back-of-house space and in-game advertising revenue.

Rice says that the original look of the park will tie in nicely with any upgrades. And he’s eager to ditch the nasty chain link fence that circles the concourses, visible from the exterior and interior, bringing back historic ornate ironwork that was there in the 1930s.

But the club hasn’t moved on the project yet, previously saying it wants a promise from rooftop owners that there will be no lawsuit to potentially slow down construction. There is no such promise. And, as of yet, we have no definitive date on the Wrigley Field renovations.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb

15 comments
bartle.dale
bartle.dale

Somehow, this is all bartmans fault.

Geeman1
Geeman1

Time to end all issues. Build a new stadium and TEAR this dump down.

Icrew29
Icrew29

Does that contract apply to a new owner? If not sell me the Cubs for $1.00 after the changes are made I will sell the team back for $1.00.

BestTampaSportsFan
BestTampaSportsFan

Put up the signs and make the rooftops what they are supposed to be ROOFTOPS. Take that contract and 17% and flush it. 

DODGERFAIL2013
DODGERFAIL2013

out of all the stadiums, wrigley and fenway are the worst baseball stadiums.


dodger stadium is up there too because of the mexicans

Icrew29
Icrew29

Build a dome over Wrigley and tell the people across the street to pound sand.

j.goodwin.125
j.goodwin.125

The 16 owners get free views of baseball in their seats.  The Cubs owe them nothing and have a right to put what they want to put.


Or the Cubs could look for a new stadium in another locale in Chicago and leavegthe old park to rot.

Ebullient
Ebullient

Is that big "Wrigley Field" sign really necessary?  Is anyone who attends any game there the least bit likely to find themselves at a loss to remember the name of the venue they're at?  Is anyone who watches on TV going to mistake it for any other stadium?  That sign is hideous and useless.


Why does the team owe the owners of the buildings across the street anything in the first place?

William27
William27

greed,

it makes the world a more pathetic place

DODGERFAIL2013
DODGERFAIL2013

@j.goodwin.125 yup, the Cubs owe them nothing... except that they signed a 20 year agreement in 2004.


learn to read idiot.

DavidReis
DavidReis

No we are sounding like idiots. Look I have been following the cubs since 1969 The Cubs need renovation of wrigley. It is the fans ballpark , not Tom Rickettsi and Not the neighbeoring residents,. Yes the sign iOS neccesary. It's called"Advertizing" I like the present sign. if the Cubs leave Wrigley Field, there goes the neighborhood ands much needed revenu..If it comes down to the Cubs leaving Wrigley would m,ale a great homeless shelter I said that about White Sox parkwhen the sox threatend to leave Chicago and that would apply here. WE ARE NOT TAKING CARE OF OUR BASEBALL TEAMS HOUSE LIKE WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN HOUSE THERE ARE TWO CHOICES FIX IT UP TEAR IT DOWN. PLEASE MR RICKETTSI DO NOT MOVE THE CUBS FROM WRIGLEY FIELD. PLEASE WRIGLEYVILLE NEIGHBORS COME AND SIT WITH US FANS WO CAN'T AFFORD ROOFTOP SEATS REMEMBER WRIGLEY FIELD HAS BEEN THERE LONGER THAN ANY ONE ELSE WHO LIVES THERE OOOOH I WOULD JUST LOVE IT IF THEY COULD WIN A WORLD SERIES HERE THE SONG SHOLLD BE STAY CUBS STAY"

DevinPaulsen
DevinPaulsen

@Ebullient it's not going to be a Wrigley Field sign.. it's going to be sign for who ever buys the ad space.. which I believe is still Budweiser.. So it will say Budweiser