Rooftop owners balk at Wrigley plan report

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
2:50
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
With a renovation of Wrigley Field -- including a JumboTron in right field -- reportedly close, Wrigleyville rooftop owners say they will use "any and all means necessary" to make sure the Chicago Cubs honor the remaining 11 years of the contract that protects their view of Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that the Cubs and the city of Chicago are expected to agree on a Wrigley Field renovation deal in time for Monday's season opener. Sources told the paper that a few rooftops would be "minimally" affected by the addition of a JumboTron in right field and at least one more sign in left field.

The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, which has 11 years left on a 20-year contract that calls for them to share 17 percent of their revenue with the Cubs, took issue with the news on Friday, claiming any addition that obscures their view of the park will essentially put them out of business.

"We reserve judgment until said proposals are publicized, however we are deeply troubled that 16 small businesses were not party to talks where their contractual rights were at stake," Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bleachers, said in a statement. "Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We support a renovated Wrigley Field, but the neighborhood and its businesses should be partners in the debate as we have over the last 30 years."

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts wanted to have a deal done April 1 to be able to start the project in October, but that self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal. He is proposing a five-year, $300 million renovation plan that will be funded by the Ricketts family if they are allowed to add new revenue streams such as ballpark signage.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told the Cubs they must come to an agreement with the Wrigleyville neighborhood and rooftop owners before he will ease Wrigley Field's landmark status, which prevents some of the renovations to the 99-year-old ballpark.

In addition to the Wrigley renovation, Ricketts has plans to build a $200 million hotel complex across the street from the park on the McDonald's property.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the new JumboTron would be 6,000 square feet, almost three times bigger than the current manually operated scoreboard.

Sources told the Sun-Times that Emanuel also is willing to increase the number of night games at Wrigley (to 40 or more) and add more concerts.

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Anthony Rizzo
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