By Andy Grimm
10:45 PM CST, February 22, 2012
With just over a month to go before the Cubs home opener, a longtime Wrigley Field street vendor filed a lawsuit today claiming a Cubs subsidiary improperly canceled their lease to sell T-shirts across the street from the ballpark.
Since 1970, the Pesha family has sold T-shirts and other merchandise from a stand in the McDonald’s parking lot near the northwest corner of Clark and Addison streets.
But when Cubs season opens April 5, their stand might be replaced by a company owned by the Ricketts family, which bought the McDonald’s last year and told the Peshas their lease for 1,500 square feet of the parking lot was canceled.
The lawsuit said the Peshas have signed leases with the previous owners as far back as 1993, and they signed a five-year deal in 2010 that gives them an option to lease the space until 2020. The suit did not say what arrangements they had prior to 1993.
Their business, Chicago Sport & Novelty Inc., operates at temporary and free-standing locations near U.S. Cellular Field, McCormick place and several other locations around the city.
The Ricketts family bought the McDonald’s property in November 2011 for $20 million and told the Peshas that McDonald’s had canceled the franchise agreement with the company that had leased them the property, the suit states.
According to the lawsuit, the Ricketts LLC intends to put a tent up in their place, selling the same sort of merchandise.
Cubs spokesman Dennis Culloton said late Wednesday the team and a subsidiary named in the suit, North Clark Street LLC, were examining the suit, and that there had been no decision on whether the company would be selling merchandise at the site.
“If there was a lease, it was not disclosed to North Clark Street,” Culloton said.
The lawsuit names McDonald’s, the franchisee, Mayasol LLC, and North Clark Street LLC, a company owned by the Ricketts family.
An attorney for Chicago Sport & Novelty declined comment on the suit Wednesday.
The suit says the company could not accurately calculate the lost profits from losing the prime location, stating that sales at the site fluctuate with the success of the Cubs.
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