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MORRISSEY: Tunney’s fight over Wrigley - I’m board with it

Updated: July 11, 2013 10:44PM

Can we move on now? Or should we expect more emotion from the alderman who is fighting for the “little people’’ — the rooftop owners who are making millions of dollars off the rich baseball team?

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved two huge outfield signs Thursday that are smaller than the Cubs had wanted as part of a Wrigley Field renovation the team will fund. I guess that means Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) won, even though he didn’t act like it at the meeting.

“I can’t support a proposal that so dramatically affects the quality of life of my residents,’’ Tunney said.

The argument from the alderman has been that the signs and video scoreboard would affect the ambience of the park and of the neighborhood, which, translated, means he’s worried about the rooftop owners, who are worried the signs will block the rooftop views of the park. Over the years, the owners have done well for themselves and for the alderman.

But it’s over now, right? No more talk of square footage and LED wattage? Don’t hold your breath. Until the renovations are done at Wrigley, this story isn’t dead. I envision Tunney making more demands from his soapbox even as the last bolt is being affixed to the video scoreboard.

The day Tunney goes back to worrying about garbage pickup in his neighborhood will be a good one, unless the pro-littering lobby also is filling his campaign coffers.

Some of the people who live in Wrigleyville continue to be shocked that a large number of people, many with motorized vehicles, show up in the neighborhood on game days. Apparently, none of the residents understood the situation when they moved in. They had no idea Wrigley was a ballpark or that the reason their homes had such high resale value was because of the Cubs. Baseball? What’s baseball?

That kind of selective blindness brought the neighborhood (and the Cubs) to this point. Here’s a brief history of the rooftops, in Q & A form:

Wait, so the owners of buildings across the street from Wrigley are going to install seats on the roofs, and people will pay top dollar to watch baseball games from farther away than the farthest reaches of the ballpark?

That’s correct.

And somehow the sight of those people watching the game will be considered part of the charm of Wrigley, even though they are not actually inside Wrigley?

I guess so.

Further, the Cubs not only will allow their product to be siphoned off but will stupidly sign a contract with the rooftop owners for the siphoning to continue?

I don’t get it either, but yes.

Well, OK then.


People like to refer to Wrigley as a cathedral, and whenever that happens, it’s not long before someone wants to make a whip to drive out the money-changers, in this case the Ricketts family. That works until you try to explain the existence of the rooftop operations across the street. If there is something more mercantile than people selling seats to someone else’s product, please let me know.

There are two different tracks to this story. One is the “plight’’ of the rooftop owners, who don’t like the outfield signs blocking the view of the paying customers. The second is the idea that more advertising will turn Wrigley into a tart.

I don’t care if the Cubs slap ads everywhere inside the ballpark. Why is it that we look nostalgically at photos of long-gone stadiums, the ones with advertising plastered all over the outfield walls, and sigh? How quaint, we say to ourselves. These ads were on or near the scoreboard at Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers: “Abe Stark, Brooklyn’s Leading Clothier.’’ “Schaefer: A Real Hit, Real Beer.” “Esquire Boot Polish: Shoes Shine Brighter … Last Longer.’’

What a simpler time!

But the Toyota ad in left field at Wrigley might as well read “666.’’

Call me a heretic, but I’d like to see a replay of a controversial home run while I’m at a Cubs game. I want to be able to see stats, and I’d like to know the scores of other games. And I don’t give a whit if a video scoreboard and/or advertising signs block rooftop seats.

But at least the rooftop owners have the valiant Tunney fighting for them. It’s a lot like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’’ where the character played by Jimmy Stewart fights for the average person. Except not.

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