Cubs exec again threatens to move if anyone dares hold up their Wrigley ad signage

It was only a matter of time before the legal battle between the Chicago Cubs and the rooftop owners complaining about proposed new ad boards led to this:

In a separate interview on WSCR-AM, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the possibility of leaving Wrigley Field remains, though the Ricketts family wants to win a World Series at Wrigley Field.

“How far do you go before you say ‘You know what? We tried and we tried to make the good effort, but it didn’t work out?’” Green said. “I won’t speak on behalf of the family, but I’m sure this is weighing heavily on them because they want to move forward on this.”

We’ve been over this before: The Cubs gain a huge chunk of their value from the fact that they play in Wrigley Field (and in the heart of Chicago’s wealthy North Side), so moving, even to the suburbs, would be the height of insanity — especially when, as Craig Calcaterra points out, “the Cubs get $3-4 million a year in revenue from the rooftop owners and are looking to get $15-20 million a year from ads on billboards and scoreboards that would block their view. So I guess you see how much money they have to play with to buy out their increasingly estranged business partners across the street.” But a savvy negotiator creates leverage, even when it comes to lawsuits.

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15 comments on “Cubs exec again threatens to move if anyone dares hold up their Wrigley ad signage

  1. They don’t *need* the sign, they *want* the sign. There is 0% chance they’re moving out of Wrigley Field. This is so stupid. You can’t wait until 2024? That said, they could move to Dallas for all I care.

  2. Hard to believe the Cubs Exec…in fact, I just can’t, and I’m certain the Rooftop Owners hold the same view (pun intended), namely, that Wrigley Field IS the draw for most fans, and NOT the players on the field. I would guess that the vast majority of fans at Cubs games in the summer are tourists from out of state that make the pilgrimage to see old antiquated 19th century Wrigley Field.
    Move to the suburbs, and the built-in attendance from tourist fans that goes with playing at the architectural “wonder” that is Wrigley, drops like a stone in water.

  3. Exactly, Dan M.
    As a Northern California resident, I’ve been lucky enough to go to about 6 Cubs games. I don’t go because I enjoy watching bad NL Central teams.

  4. Even for die hards, the Cubs themselves aren’t the real attraction. Lots of people will tell you Wrigley itself is a dump… and in some ways it still is.

    But the stadium provides a link to the past (and the distant past is, of course, the only thing we long time Cub fans can cling to…). There has been quite an influx of “new” Cub fans who come expecting things they can find in other ballparks (you know, concrete that stays where it was pooured place, working bathrooms etc…). Perhaps this is some of the reason for the Ricketts family maniacal change plan. But it’s mostly about money, obviously.

    As I’ve questioned on this forum before, I wonder how long it will be before the “new direction” the Ricketts family wants to take this franchise (the mascot, the video boards, the even more complete alienation of Lakeview…) costs them it’s longest term supporters?

    It’s worth remembering that when the Trib bought this club in 1981 (I think) and set about building the following that Ricketts’ purchased a few years ago, there were often 10k or less in the stands. The Cubs aren’t an iconic club with “legacy” support in the way the Red Sox or Yankees are. If he thinks he can’t alienate his way back to Tampa or Montreal levels of support, he’s dead wrong.

  5. John – so what’s your breaking point that you stop being a Cubs fan? Don’t forget about possibly losing WGN & all those superstation fans across the country that bred people into Cubs fans. They have already conceded Peoria to the Cardinals. This ain’t your Bill Murray Cubs anymore. Until Sammy Sosa came to the North Side, the Cubs weren’t a draw at all; especially with all those 1:20pm weekday games.
    This whole thing is so laughable; like the Cubs would really move away from Wrigley Field for the lack of a lousy sign & would completely start over from scratch in the middle of nowhere on a stadium that would cost over a billion dollars that most likely would have very little state funding. The Cubs have zero leverage and the Ricketts & Green know this, but it won’t stop them from using empty threats & scare tactics on uninformed fans. If the Cubs moved out of Wrigley, they would probably draw the same as the Brewers or Royals.

  6. Green and co. know if they make enough noises the sports sheep will run for cover, the financial dependents will cower and the pol’s will come a-runnin’.
    Y’all keep shoveling your “dollars” (this word will be meaningless soon) to feed the big league sports industry monster and they will keep this up.
    They do it for the fans…

  7. It would have been a better story if some photos had accompanied this article – for those of us who left Chicago many long years ago …. and/or those who have not visited the old neighborhood ever. The story was not clear on where these ad boards are/were.

  8. “Y’all keep shoveling your “dollars” to feed the big league sports industry monster…”
    I don’t. Haven’t paid for a ticket or had cable TV since 2000. Watching it on TV is completely better anyway, aside from the announcers.

  9. for the commenter above who said the cubs attendence might drop to the level of the brewes if the cubs move:

    2013 Attendance

    Chicago Cubs


  10. MP34:

    It’s a really good question… and I don’t know the answer to it.

    I’ve been a Cub fan since the tail end of the 1970s. Yes, WGN being converted into a superstation (direct satellite broadcasts) and showing day games – often the only day games for a good part of the 1980s btw – was a tremendous driver for the support the Cubs now have. There is really no chance I would have become a Cubs fan without that access to the product. For a good number of we “long time” fans, WGN and the Trib’s ownership is the main reason.

    I consider it more than a possibility that WGN will lose the Cubs’ rights next year. Based on Ricketts past behavior, he absolutely will move more (or all) the games to another network for more money – just as most of his counterparts in other large markets have. If WGN is reduced to a game of the week type carrier, will the general public care about the Cubs anymore? (It’s worth noting that all Cubs games not covered by the network Saturday/Sunday contracts used to be on WGN, they’ve been split with Comcast for the past few years… I haven’t counted, but I’d guess we get about 50-60 games a year on WGN currently)

    While in some respects I don’t blame owners for “taking the cash” now (as they will rightly argue, their competitors are doing it and they would be disadvantaged if they didn’t do it also… so I guess it’s a good thing no owner has started selling heroin at games isn’t it?), it is a very short sighted move. Not everyone will pony up for the regionals (WGN is a cheap add on for most subscribers, the RSNs often aren’t). is a bit of a wildcard in this as we can all (almost all) watch any out of market game we want on it for a relatively small charge. So it’s not like fans will be cut off completely I guess.

    One only has to look at Boxing to see what happens over the long term when access to the product at a reasonable price is curtailed. We were fine waiting for Saturday to watch the prize fight on WWoS. Once people stopped getting that access, viewership dropped. You really don’t see the cliff coming for a generation or two… then, when you’ve passed through all the kids who grew up watching it on ABC and are willing to pay whatever is asked, you are left with a customer base that has grown up without your product and doesn’t miss it at all.

    I disagree with you about Sosa, however. Once WGN was available everywhere and the Cubs started playing a bit better in the early-mid 80s, tickets were much harder to come by. Perhaps Sosa was the driver for the “new wave” of Cub fans we see today, but the Cubs were financially healthy from the mid 80’s on. It really didn’t take the Trib all that long to rebuild the business IMO.

    Btw, sorry for the typos in the first post… getting old… tired… lazy…

  11. Dan:

    If you’ve followed this team for long enough, you will recall that the Cubs made noises about ‘moving to Schaumburg’ in the mid 1980s when Lakeview residents opposed a plan to install lights and allow night games.

    I think we know how that worked out…

    And just the winter before last, the whacko mayor of Cicero put a motion before his council to explore options to lure the Cubs to his fine city…

    That said, I agree with you. The Cubs away from Wrigley would simply be a joke. I doubt the Yankees were ever seriously considering moving to NJ no matter how badly negotiations went with the city… but at least they would have had some fans follow them. The Cubs? not a chance.

  12. The Cubs would never leave. That would be insane. Another club out there would move there the next day and take advantage of one of the best markets in baseball. Or the White Sox would simply clean up. They’re like the Yankees; there just isn’t a prayer of them even considering leaving. Their fans would put up the money for a new stadium, that’s how crazy and rich their fanbase is. And really and truly, I’d make an exception for the Cubs because their stadium is downright ancient. It’s not like the Metrodome that is barely 30 or so.

  13. Can you name me another team that has to go through a City Council to approve night games?
    The politics is just so unreal.
    I really could see Rickets saying enough is enough if Ald.Tunney (sic) keeps making demands.

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