Friday, January 25, 2013

Rooftop owners swing...but I think they missed.

Because the product that will be put on the field really is no interest to anyone right now, all attention has been put on the Wrigley Field renovation plans.

The rooftop owners are seen as one of the final hurdles to getting this plan moving forward and their stalling tactic basically revolves around the Cubs' wish to put up advertising in the outfield.  We can assume the advertising would be similar to the Toyota sign that is currently out there.  

Today the rooftop owners had their say...holding a press conference and giving their vision for the renovations.

They made a nice little video to demonstrate how they would like to partner with the team to try to maximize the advertising around the ballpark.

So the rooftops owners want LED boards on their buildings instead advertising inside of Wrigley that could potentially obstruct some of their views of the playing surface inside the ballpark.

I can actually give some serious problems to what is being proposed here.

First, the LED boards, where they are proposed to be located, will somewhat obstructed.  Part of the reason for putting up advertising is so people will actually see the advertisements.  Placing these LED advertisement boards off the facade of these rooftops will result in advertising that will be seen by parts of the stadium, but isn't likely to be seen very much on TV, which is actually the larger audience that advertisers are trying to reach.  (Why do you think they put that board off the brick wall behind home plate or on the doors of the outfield walls?)

Second, LED boards are bright and annoying...and the Cubs already have a number of them, with more likely to be on the way with the renovation (which doesn't include the outfield advertising the team is requesting).  They also will not have the same dramatic impact that a static advertisement has such as the Toyota sign.

A third issue I had with this proposal was with the video board they proposed to put on on what we have known as the Budweiser, Horseshoe Casino, or most recently, United Airlines building.  The Cubs should put up a video board, and I've even thought that building would be an ideal spot for it...but when I tried to create rendering of what that might look like, it turned out bad...really bad.  First off, the board is too far back from the main ballpark to make a dramatic impact.  Second, the video board would be too fact, I don't think there are any primary video boards in Major League baseball right now that would be as small as that one would be.  If you are going to do something that dramatic, do it right.  I've said for a while that I thought the Cubs were likely in negotiations with some of the building owners over the possibility of put  in a video board, but anything beyond that no.  The video board the rooftops are proposing just won't work.

Look, I sympathize (barely) with the rooftop owners on this.  They have invested heavily in their buildings and are scared that their businesses will be hurt.  At the same time, many of these people have made a ton of money by stealing a product for years.  Some of them went into this with the expectation that they should be able to make money here, and they are justified to try to protect that business.

At the same time, the rooftops contribute virtually nothing to help the Cubs win on the field. (The percentage of revenues they give the Cubs is chump change.)  The presentation given here basically did nothing more than show that if there is advertising put in Wrigley, they think they deserve a piece of the revenues it generates, but they have failed to demonstrate how that would benefit the Cubs.

At this point, the Cubs seem to be digging in their cleats on the idea that they want to keep the advertising inside the ballpark.  I don't blame them.  This way they can control the actual advertising that goes up and they will likely do a better job to help keep the advertising set up in such a way that it blends in with the rest of the ballpark (like the Underarmour, Toyota, Target and Tervis adverts).  Remember, they had some real issues with the Horseshoe Casino sign, which led to the Toyota sign being put up.

One final point I'd like to make about this is that the Cubs have made deal after deal after deal with the rooftop owners, and while the Cubs usually get their way, it isn't without a ton of fighting in the process. Every deal made with the rooftop owners and the neighborhood in general has resulted in the Cubs being restricted in being able to do something else in the future.  While the Cubs tend to be able to get around these issues (expanding the bleachers, more night games, adding the Toyota sign), it has taken a lot more time and energy for them to actually achieve these items which are actually pretty important to the financial competitiveness of the franchise.  That energy would be better placed in with the on field product.

I didn't want the Cubs to renovate Wrigley.  My reasons are different from many others who think the ballpark should be left alone.  I didn't want to renovate the place because I think the team should move and build a new stadium somewhere else altogether.

But...if the team stays (ok, they aren't leaving...but still), I've felt that they should get to do whatever they want to the place.  The truth is, the neighborhood and the rooftops aren't going to suffer because of it. In fact, just like all the other changes to the ballpark over the last 30 years, they will benefit from it just like the Cubs will.