Rooftop owners raise legal concerns about Wrigley signs

The owners of the lucrative rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field today rattled a legal saber, saying an apparent agreement to allow signs that would block their ballpark views would violate their contract with the Cubs.

“Any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law,” the owners of 16 rooftop venues said in a written statement.

The rooftop owners reiterated their position a day after Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th, told the Tribune that there was general agreement between the Ricketts family that owns the team, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Tunney on signage inside the 99-year-old ballpark.

One sign, a Jumbotron-like video screen in left field, would at least partly block views from some of the rooftops, Tunney said. There also was agreement that a smaller sign — akin to the semi-transparent Toyota sign now in left field — would be placed in right field, Tunney said.

But the exact size of the video screen still remained uncertain, as did the specific number of additional night games that would be allowed, Tunney said.

The Ricketts want the signs to sell advertising to help finance a $300 million renovation of the 99-year-old stadium. They also have proposed investing another $200 million in the immediate area of the ballpark to put up a hotel and an office building with a plaza.

Tunney said the Cubs have agreed to address the need for extra parking in Wrigleyville, possibly by constructing a two-level garage that would create up to 500 extra spaces near Clark and Grace Streets. The Cubs also have pledged to help fund the cost of putting extra police on patrol around game times, he said.

He also said there’s general agreement that a hotel, office building and plaza will be part of the plan, but the type of signage that would be allowed on the hotel and at the plaza still needs to be ironed out.

The rooftop owners have not taken part in recent daily talks about the Wrigley rehab. At one point, they proposed putting signs on their building and giving the revenue to the Cubs, in exchange for extending by 11 years a revenue-sharing agreement between the Cubs and rooftop owners that now set to expire at end of 2023. But the Cubs have resisted extending the current agreement.

In the statement, the rooftop owners asserted their view that the agreement, as well as a landmark ordinance protecting the stadium, prevents the Cubs from blocking “the uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers” and thus their views into the park.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office declined comment today. Dennis Culloton, spokesman for the Ricketts, said the Cubs were hopeful all the issues could be resolved by the home opener on Monday.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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