Cubs apply for permit for right-field sign at Wrigley
Club moves forward after talks stall between team and rooftop owners
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have filed a permit application to install a 650-square foot sign in right field that would partially block the view from some of the rooftops.
According to reports, Monday's action comes after talks last week between the Cubs and rooftop owners failed to reach a resolution. The Cubs want to install a see-through sign in right field to generate revenue. The Chicago City Council had authorized such a sign last year.
Alderman Pat O'Connor, 40th Ward, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday that this was a positive move, even if it results in the two sides having to go to court to resolve it.
"It gets the show on the road," O'Connor told the Sun-Times. "Now we have a finite time in which we'll get an answer and get a project going.
"They continue to try and find a way to resolve it, but some problems have to be resolved in litigation. Now there's legal standing to get this before a judge. And I'm fine with that. If nothing else, now they have a greater incentive to resolve this."
The Cubs also want to install a video scoreboard behind the left-field bleachers, part of the $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field.
Last week, the rooftop owners filed a defamation lawsuit against stadium financing consultant Marc Ganis, who once advised the Cubs' prior owner, the Tribune Co. In the suit, rooftop owners accused Ganis of making false and defamatory statements, including urging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to remove the rooftop roadblock and side with the Cubs.
The Cubs were named in the lawsuit as "respondents in discovery." According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs officials felt the suit signaled the rooftop owners' intention to take further legal action to block the two outfield signs proposed for Wrigley Field.
"Since last summer, we always stated our intent to move forward with this sign in right field prior to the 2014 season, and we were hopeful we could reach a resolution at the negotiating table," Julian Green, vice president, communications and community affairs, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday.
"But given the rejection of our proposal and last week's legal action, it certainly appears we are going to be met with some resistance, so we are planning on moving forward with this sign," Green said. "We are still interested in a solution that doesn't involve the courts."
The rooftop owners share 17 percent of their revenues with the Cubs. Last week, the Cubs met with the rooftop owners and reportedly explored the option of reducing the team's share of the rooftop revenues or buying them out.
"Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs," Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, told the Sun-Times on Monday. "This is an unfortunate turn of events, because our hope was to find a solution to this matter."
The Cubs and rooftop owners were scheduled to meet later this week.
The City Council authorized the Wrigley Field renovation plan last summer. During the Cubs Convention earlier this month, president of business operations Crane Kenney said the team would not begin the project until rooftop owners agreed not to sue to block the signage.
The Cubs' have done mock-ups of the proposed outfield signs, and reduced the size of the signs and moved their location after concerns expressed by the rooftop owners.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.