Chicago landmarks board okays Cubs putting ad signs wherever the hell they want at Wrigley

As expected, the Chicago landmarks commission approved Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ revised plans for Wrigley Field renovations, unanimously even. That’s revised upwards from two outfield ad signs to seven, and with new expanded decks in the bleachers over public streets, and with new seating along the foul lines and the bullpens moved under the bleachers, but hey, he waited a month and made the bullpen doors smaller, so what’s not to approve?

The only thing standing in the way of renovations beginning immediately, it appears, is a lasuit from the neighboring rooftop owners charging that the ad signage would block their view in violation of their contact with the Cubs — but given that they still haven’t filed a lawsuit after talking about it for six months, Ricketts really could start work tomorrow and nobody would be able to stop him. It’s still possible that legal action could be filed and delay things a bit longer, but if you want to see Wrigley before this (only with corporate logos wherever it says “Cubs”), you should probably get your tickets now.


9 comments on “Chicago landmarks board okays Cubs putting ad signs wherever the hell they want at Wrigley

  1. The outcome was never in doubt. The Mayor wanted Landmarks to approve it, and they always do what the mayor wants. Alderman Tunney once again loudly proclaimed how the Cubs are “not being good neighbors,” but really, what exactly does that mean? The renovations are going to happen, the rooftop owners are tilting at windmills.

  2. I understand your point Neil, but what exactly would the rooftop owners have filed a lawsuit over? Ricketts hasn’t contravened their agreement until he builds (and very probably until he has built) the offending items that the rooftop owners believe are in contravention of their agreement.

    Filing suit because someone says they ‘might’ do something is a bit foolish. It has certainly been done before, but IMO the rooftop owners need to wait until the allegedly offending articles have been built… at which point they can prove that Ricketts has violated their contractual agreement (or not, given that the “enhancements” now appear to include additional seating as well as ad boards, decks etc).

  3. Went today (before I even knew about this). Probably the last time.

    On some level Ricketts can do whatever he wants and I don’t care. Just the way this has unfolded makes me give less of a crap about the Cubs. More importantly is just that shitty baseball is really expensive.

  4. Michael:

    I know a number of long time Cubs fans that feel the same way. Some used to moan about the Trib ownership, but I don’t think there are too many who wouldn’t prefer the Trib as compared to the poor little whiny rich kid.

    For a guy who claims to be a lifelong Cub fan, he doesn’t seem to understand the business he bought. I don’t think we are at the “emperor has no clothes” moment yet, but you can see it building in the distance can’t you?

  5. John: Submitting detailed plans to a regulatory agency is quite a few steps beyond saying you might do something. When you announce to the world that you plan to renege on an agreement you have with me, taking legal steps to prevent that from happening is far from foolish. Not taking action at this point could be viewed as acquiescence.

  6. I disagree on the acquiescence part Keith. It’s fair to say that filing a development plan is more than just noodling with ideas, but I don’t believe the rooftop owners would be serving their own interests by filing an action “too soon”. It remains to be seen, as Neil points out, whether they will file at all.

  7. I was curious about the rooftop owners’ rights and found this…

    csnchicago.com/cubs/exclusive-look-inside-cubs-rooftop-contract

    not sure if it’s been mentioned before. Have the rooftoppers threatened to go to arbitration?

  8. John:

    Had family in town and it was on their to-do list, so I felt obligated to treat. And, the cost difference between me picking up a cheap single ticket on craigslist and needing to get 5 seats together on a bobble-head day is absolutely obscene. I’m just done. I can find so many better uses of my entertainment dollar.

    I slightly disagree in that I do think Ricketts does understand what kind of business he bought. It’s one where there are many more additional revenue streams to be exploited. And it’s not just in the park. Once the Cubs’ deal with WGN expires and depending on the details of the CSN deal (specifically how long they are locked in for, which I don’t know off the top of my head), I fully expect a YES-like network from the Cubs. We can only hope that the RSN-apocalyse has changed the landscape before then.

    I just think that you (I’m guessing) and I are in the minority of people that are put off by all the proposed changes. Most people seem to have no problem with increased signage and want more video and screens and the like. But I’m over live baseball as it’s currently priced.

  9. I think that’s fair, Michael.

    The CSN deal runs for at least a couple more years if I remember right (2017?), and yes it will be interesting to see how Cubs games are made available to the (not at all centralized) Cubs fan base. Two major things have made the Cubs fan favourites in the last 30 years and neither has anything to do with success on the field. First, the Cubs play a lot of day games. That means kids watching both in the park and on TV. Second, the accessibility of the programming via WGN/WGN America. For those of us who grew up in the 1970s and/or early 80s, baseball was a summer staple on the superstations in Atlanta, New York and Chicago (together with other regional networks that were, obviously, not available nationwide.

    I get that things have changed in both the broadcasting and fan sense… but I’m not sure the diffuse network of Cubs fans will continue to throw money at the team if CSN is the only network showing games and these are not available nationwide (except on MLB.tv).

    Yankees fans have shown they will pay the price asked (for the most part). The difference is that they know when they go to the ballpark that the club is always trying to win. The Cubs don’t have that to sell. They’ve never had that to sell.
    While their farm system is improving all the time, the reality is that the Cubs look more like a AAA team than an MLB one at present.

    At the moment, sports teams are operating as though it is not only their right but obligation to extract every last dollar from their supporters (in both consentual and non consentual ways). Anyone who has run a business understands that one key to success is not to make your customers feel like they are being victimized every time they walk through the door. That’s where I think Ricketts is doomed to failure. Like Lew Wolff, he needs to understand that he hasn’t purchased the Yankees…

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