The Cubs have been in negotiations with the rooftop owners across Sheffield Avenue for some time. The subject: the Cubs’ massive Wrigley Field renovation in general and the team’s plan to put up a big billboard in right field in particular. A billboard which will — according to the rooftop owners — alter and/or block the view from the rooftops across Sheffield.
Those negotiations have fallen through, however, the rooftop owners have sued the Cubs and it seems like everyone is going to head to court. It’s possible that the rooftop owners could seek injunctive relief to stop the project and, in turn, hold up the Wrigley renovation itself. Into that mix are allegations going back and forth about disparaging remarks about the rooftops owners made by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and other, older comments from Cubs’ previous owners. All of that background can be read at the Sun-Times.
Of course, the reason the Cubs can’t just put up a sign and tell the rooftop people to go pound sand is that they signed agreements with these folks several years ago in which the team agreed to take 17 percent of the revenues the building owners receive by virtue of letting folks peek in on Cubs games from across the street. In exchange, the Cubs made certain promises to the rooftop owners too, including not doing things like putting up big things to obstruct the view.
Why the Cubs ever agreed to that is a darn good question. I suppose it was a good short term decision — hey, we need a piece of that action! — but it was a decision that limited the team’s rights, and that’s what they’re up against now.