The Chicago Cubs did a test run of their new right-field advertising board this week, using a crane to temporarily hoist a sign reading “Wrigley Field” into position atop the right-field bleachers. Writes SBNation Cubs blogger Al Yellon:
From what I could tell, it didn’t seem as if the views from any of the seats actually on that rooftop — likely the only one that would be even partially blocked by such a sign — would have any trouble still seeing the field. It’s possible that some views from levels below the rooftop might have some blockage, but then, people who are inside are even less likely to be paying attention to the game than those on the actual rooftop.
So that doesn’t sound too bad. Let’s check out an actual photo of the view from a roof:
If that photo is accurate — it appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, and just says “provided photo,” so not clear who actually took it or from where — that could be a little bit of a problem, yeah. And rooftop owners immediately threatened to file suit if a sign (the actual one would apparently read “BUDWEISER”) is made permanent, under the contract they have with the Cubs to give the team a cut of revenues in exchange for rooftop patrons being allowed to peer in on the games:
“We’ve been crystal clear. Any sign that blocks the views of the rooftops will result in legal action. This violates a contract that the Cubs have with rooftop owners” that requires the clubs to share 17 percent of their revenues with the team, rooftops spokesman Ryan McLaughlin said in a statement.
The Cubs management response, meanwhile, starts to make clear what the team’s legal strategy is likely to be in this case:
“Every one of these rooftops still has a view inside this ballpark. I didn’t say the same view. But, we believe every rooftop partner will be able to have a view inside the ballpark,” [Cubs spokesperson Julian] Green said.
So there you go: Even if new ad signage obstructs the view from the rooftops, it doesn’t totally obstruct the view. Without seeing the actual contract language it’s tough to say, but that doesn’t exactly sound like the winningest legal strategy. Though it is still better than “Don’t sue, or I’ll shoot my own renovation plans.” Besides, this is the Cubs, after all, so maybe expecting them to come up with winning strategies is a bit much.