The rooftop owners across from Wrigley Field have filed a new court challenge against this winter’s changes to the ballpark’s bleachers, claiming that — stay with me here — the real reason Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts agreed to move some ad boards was not because he needed to in order to get federal historic preservation tax credits, but because he wanted to in order to punish rooftop owners who wouldn’t sell out to him:
“Shortly after the commission announced its July 10, 2014 decision, the Cubs told the rooftops they could either sell their businesses to the Cubs at a fraction of both cost and fair market value or have their businesses destroyed when the Cubs block their views,” according to the complaint.
Facing this threat, several non-plaintiff owners allegedly sold their businesses to the Cubs during summer and fall of 2014…
“The National Park Service objected to the outfield signs approved by the Commission because the excessive size and number of outfield signs would adversely affect the historic and architectural features of Wrigley Field,” the complaint states.
“Instead of substantively modifying the outfield sign plan, the Cubs reconfigured the outfield signs so as to completely block the views of the rooftops the Cubs were unable to purchase and to restore the views of the rooftops the Cubs contracted to purchase,” it continues.
Of course, both explanations could be true: Ordered by the National Park Service to scale back his signage plans or lose the tax credits, Ricketts could well have thought, “Okay, if we can only keep a few signs, let’s keep the ones blocking the views of the rooftops we don’t own.” I’m not exactly sure what would be illegal about this — the rooftop owners are seeking an injunction under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, but Ricketts isn’t a government agency — but we’ll see what a judge says when the rooftop owners’ request for an injunction lands on their desk, I guess.