Well that only took nearly two and a half years. After originally unveiling Wrigley Field expansion plans in January of 2012 at the Cubs Convention, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts today declared that the team will move forward with the renovation of Wrigley Field amidst a legal entanglement with the rooftop owners across the street.
To which I say: Ricketts, what took so long?
As the Chicago Cubs signed a contract with the rooftops in 2003, providing them a view into the stadium at the expense of a 17 percent royalty, the rooftops have predictably not been happy about signage that would block their views and have threatened a lawsuit. The Cubs tried to work out an arrangement with the rooftop owners and scaled back their original plans to appease them, but the parties never came to an agreement.
I get it; the Cubs wanted to peaceably come to an arrangement with the rooftop owners rather than blatantly walk all over the contract they signed that runs through 2023, but it should have become apparent that there would be no agreement a lot sooner than two years and four months later.
In fact, as parts of the original contract have surfaced the language clearly states that any new construction approved by the city would not be in violation of the Cubs’ side of the deal. As the city approved the deal in July of 2013, the Cubs have known all along that they were on sound legal footing if the case ever was brought to court.
So again, Ricketts, what took so long?
It is fantastic news for Cubs fans and for the city of Chicago as a whole that the Cubs are finally saying they’re done negotiating with the rooftops. The expansion and renovation of Wrigley Field and the new amenities around it will create new jobs, while adding significant revenue streams for both the Cubs and the city.
There will be a legal battle ensuing now that the Cubs have finally stopped pussyfooting around and have made a move, but there was always going to be a legal battle. This is what makes it frustrating that Ricketts and the Cubs waited so long to take a stand. The Cubs and the rooftop owners will most likely settle out of court, and with the new revenue streams coming in, whatever settlement the Cubs end up having to pay likely won’t make much of a dent in their wallet.
For now, Cubs fans can finally get excited again about a renovated Wrigley Field. It will not only add to the overall ballpark experience, but more importantly it will put the Cubs on even footing with the rest of the league as far as generating income and signing impact players.