Cubs try out new see-through sign at Wrigley, discover “see-through sign” is a misnomer

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.

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4 comments on “Cubs try out new see-through sign at Wrigley, discover “see-through sign” is a misnomer

  1. Do the Cubs sell ‘obstructed view’ tickets? They must. The columns on the lower level have to partially block the view in certain seats.

    Anyway, that would pretty much be the Cubs admitting that contained in the notion of “view” is a clear sightline to the field with nothing in the way. Where that’s not the case they themselves use the modifier “obstructed” to differentiate seats without just a “view.”

  2. “Notice of obstructed views will be printed on the tickets for some of the worst seats.”

    http://chiblogo.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/bad-seats-in-the-house/

  3. Isn’t Ricketts still a part owner of one of the rooftops businesses?

    Would love to read the language in those contracts… I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t require the sightlines into the stadium to be “unmodified without consent of the affected party (rooftop owner)”, given that the Cubs planned to build a wall to completely block off the building owner’s view if they didn’t knuckle under to what is essentially extortion on the part of the team… If the contracts do include similar language, it would explain why Ricketts is demanding that they promise they won’t do what they seem very much to have the right to do before he builds anything. I hope they don’t. After all, they are paying him 17% for the view they have into the ballpark. If he wants to cut them out, he needs to offer them something, not the other way around. What a putz.

    Then again, as I’ve said before, if the city had prevented those grandstands from going up in the first place (as they should have done for both architectural and practical reasons), this would not be an issue.

    “Good job, Brownie”

  4. Michael: These days, I believe they charge more for the seats where you can’t see the Cubs play than the unobstructed ones. Just sayin’.

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