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Friday, January 30, 2004
Owners to pay 17 percent of revenue

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs finalized a deal to end their dispute with most of the owners of rooftop bleachers that overlook Wrigley Field.

The deal generally follows a tentative 20-year agreement reached earlier this month with the help of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier, according to Alderman Thomas Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, and Beth Murphy, who owns a rooftop bleacher business.

The rooftop business owners agreed to pay the team about 17 percent of their revenue -- expected to bring the Cubs between $1.2 million to $1.7 million a year. The agreement also includes provisions for the owners to be reimbursed if their views are hindered by ballpark alterations, including a proposed expansion of Wrigley's bleachers.

The deal was signed Tuesday by the Cubs and owners of 10 of the 13 rooftop businesses the team had sued, Murphy said. She owns Murphy's Bleachers -- a tavern just beyond the center-field wall -- and a rooftop site down the street.

"I am delighted that we reached a settlement. That we reached it this way instead of in court means that there will be more goodwill on either side," she said. "To have an acrimonious relationship with the Cubs isn't good for the neighborhood or for us."

The Cubs referred questions to Mark McGuire, the team's executive vice president of business operations. He did not immediately return calls for comment Friday.

The dispute started when the Cubs began arguing with the rooftop owners over plans to expand the stadium, with the rooftop owners fearing their views would be obstructed. In December 2002, the Cubs sued the rooftop owners, accusing them of stealing the team's product, copyright infringement and unjust enrichment at the Cubs' expense.

The team also temporarily hung dark screens on the outfield fences to try to prevent free peeks at the field.

Cubs president Andy MacPhail told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Friday that the team will pursue its lawsuit against the three rooftop owners who were not part of the settlement.

"We are completely confident in our position," said Chris Gair, a lawyer for the three owners. "The Cubs don't own the view from our buildings. We own the view from our buildings."