The Chicago Cubs declared Wednesday that they would push forward with their plan of applying for a city permit to begin a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, including the construction of a 650-foot see-through sign in right field, reports Fran Speilman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The team made the statement after discussions with the owners of the of the rooftop clubs across the street of Wrigley Field fell apart. The rooftop owners believe that the sign will impede the view of the game provided from the seats set on up top of the iconic buildings.
The rooftop owners currently have a 20-year deal with the Cubs that runs through 2023 that provides 17 percent of their revenue to the team. The Cubs announced their intentions Saturday to begin construction in 2014 and add a video scoreboard in 2013, but management would have liked to receive word that the rooftop owners will not sue the team before moving forward with plans. The signs in right-field would provide a key source of revenue needed to fund the project.
The rooftop owners are also suing Marc Ganis, a stadium financing consultant who advised the team's former owner, the Tribune Company. Ganis is accused of making false and defamatory statements in a January 2013 Sun-Times story when he pleaded with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to side with the Cubs. In the story, Ganis had the following to say:
"The only reason this deal is not happening is because [local alderman] Tom Tunney is protecting the rooftop owners and a couple of bar owners. That has to be one of the most ludicrous situations in the history of sports facility development."
"Protecting carpetbaggers stealing the product paid for by others for their own profit and, thereby, stopping a $300 million investment, 2,000 permanent jobs and 800 construction jobs along with tens of million of new city taxes. As a taxpayer in Chicago, one has to hope Mayor Emanuel talks some sense into Ald. Tunney for the good of the city."
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Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney says that the agreement the club has with the owners of the rooftops does not include any prohibitions on signage.
"Just to be very, very clear on this point, the contract does not prevent signage in the outfield. At all. Full stop," Kenney told ESPN. "What prevented signs in the outfield was the old landmark ordinance, which has been changed ... The rooftops say all the time, 'Our contract doesn't allow signage,' but that's not true."
The rooftop owners and the Cubs had been discussing possible solutions, including possibly moving signage to one of the rooftops or reducing the Cubs' share of profits from the seats atop the buildings. However, negotiations came to an end when the owners of the roofs asked that the Cubs also put the new video scoreboard on one of the rooftops.
With negotiations between the two sides falling apart, it appears the Cubs and rooftop owners will head to court to solve their issues.