Rooftop owners: Wrigley Field test sign obstructs views
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter October 30, 2013 6:00PM
The view from one of the rooftops along right field on Wednesday when crews put up a test sign at Wrigley Field. | Provided photo
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:19PM
The Cubs on Wednesday put up a mock-up of the 650-square-foot script sign at Wrigley Field that affirmed the worst nightmares of rooftop club owners who feared their views would be blocked.
The test run — using a sign that read, “Wrigley Field” — was aimed at appeasing the rooftops and jump-starting stalled negotiations between the team and club owners.
Instead, it proved to Sheffield rooftop owners that views would, indeed, be blocked by the right-field sign — even after the outfield wall is moved back by 15 feet. That would force rooftop patrons to look through the script sign because they won’t be able to see over it.
“We’ve been crystal clear. Any sign that blocks the views of the rooftops will result in legal action. This violates a contract that the Cubs have with rooftop owners” that requires the clubs to share 17 percent of their revenues with the team, rooftops spokesman Ryan McLaughlin said in a statement.
In spite of the renewed threat and the negative reaction to Wednesday’s test, the Cubs plan to forge ahead with the sign, according to team spokesman Julian Green.
“Every one of these rooftops still has a view inside this ballpark. I didn’t say the same view. But, we believe every rooftop partner will be able to have a view inside the ballpark,” Green said.
“If someone is taking the position that the only resolution is no sign at all, that’s not a resolution — especially when the city has approved the sign in right field,” he said. “We plan to move forward with the sign. The last time we did this mock-up, we didn’t have a partner. Now, we have a partner in Budweiser. Given that we have a new partner, our plan is to activate this asset.”
Green further noted that the see-through Toyota sign that’s already up in left field did not violate the rooftops contract.
In late July, the City Council finally approved the Cubs’ $500 million plan to rebuild 99-year-old Wrigley Field and develop the land around it, bankrolled by a video scoreboard in left field, the see-through sign in right and an infusion of new signage outside the ballpark.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has maintained ever since that construction will not begin until rooftop club owners who share 17 percent of their revenues with the team drop their threat of a lawsuit aimed at preventing the team from bankrolling the project with two massive outfield signs that could block their views.
Green said Wednesday’s sign rehearsal has not changed the team’s position.
Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tied up loose ends by introducing four ordinances that would honor his outstanding commitments to the team.
They would: modify the night game ordinance to give the Cubs more scheduling flexibility; permanently cancel plans for a pedestrian bridge over Clark street and shift the entrance of a planned boutique hotel; allow the stadium’s right- and left-field walls to be extended outward without compensation to taxpayers, and waive the requirement for City Council approval of individual signs inside and outside the ballpark already included in a previously approved “sign matrix.”
Once the City Council approves those changes, Emanuel is hoping the Cubs will finally begin construction of the long-awaited project expected to create 2,100 jobs and generate $19 million a year in local tax revenue.