Friday, April 5, 2013

How much could the rooftops sue the Cubs for?

The rooftop owners are threatening to sue the Cubs over any renovation deal where their views of the ballpark may be obstructed.

I've stated before that the rooftop owners will do anything in their power to fight renovations of any kind.

The rooftop association released this statement today:

The apparent decision to allow the Chicago Cubs to block the views of some Wrigleyville Rooftops is in direct violation of the current 20-year agreement entered into by the Cubs and the Rooftop owners. While Rooftop owners support the concept of renovating Wrigley Field, exact plans for outfield signage have not been provided to these contractual partners.

The in-force contract negotiated by federal mediators which enumerates revenue sharing between the Cubs and their neighbors – along with the accompanying landmark ordinance – protects the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers” until at least 2024. Any construction that interrupts the Rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.

How much could the rooftops really sue the Cubs for?

Basically, a judge would have to decided how much monetarily the video board and any other advertisements would affect sales of rooftop seats.

My argument is that obstructed views would not affect the rooftop businesses significantly.  The rooftops would, though, be majorly affected by the other renovations being done to the the Cubs add the amenities that only the rooftops currently provide.  But putting that aside, we first need to look at how many rooftops would be significantly affected by the video board and any advertisements.  In left field, only the Beyond The Ivy rooftop on, Waveland at the corner of Sheffield, would be horribly affected by a video board.  I should add that this rooftop structure was built after the 2004 agreement the Cubs had with the rooftop owners.  Perhaps one other rooftop in left field would be significantly affected by the board.

In right field, perhaps two rooftops will really be affected assuming the Cubs put them up in such a way that they would limit the obstruction.

So, we now say that 4 of the 17 rooftops are affected by the new signage, or for simplicity sake, we'll just say a quarter of them.

The rooftop owners currently take in an estimated $25 million a year.  Over the span of 11 years, that is $275 million dollars.  That's a ton of money.

But if the new signage only significantly affects 4 rooftops...we'll say this total only affects about a quarter of revenue that puts us at about $70 million total.  I don't believe a judge could really say that the blockage will affect 100% of the revenues from those four rooftops.  It seems reasonable to think that the rooftops will suffer a 50% reduction in revenue.  That puts that total at $35 million.

$35 million...over 11 years.

That's a little over $3 million a year.

To put that in perspective, the Cubs currently get $4 million a year from the rooftops as part of their agreement.

If I'm the Cubs, the lawsuit probably wouldn't bother me too much.  The only thing that could happen is it could delay when they could deploy the new video board.

I'm not a lawyer, a judge and no very little about these sort of things, but I'm just trying to use some logic here to get an idea of what is at stake.  Please leave a comment if you have any different perspectives on this.


As an aside, I'm asking for any help from anyone who might have access to the text of the agreement between the rooftop owners and the Cubs.

The reason I ask about this is because a lot of things are being said about this agreement including the possibility that, as stated above, the agreement states that the Cubs may not alter the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers”...but with the added note of "without approval from the city."

If that is the case, the rooftop owners have little ground to stand on here.

This could very well be why Tom Tunney changed his tune and has basically turned his back on the rooftop owners.