Last week, we discussed the epic pissing match between the Cubs and their surrounding rooftop bleacher proprietors. The disagreement, which has delayed all of Wrigley’s planned renovations for the past six months, is over the team’s proposed new (outrageously massive) jumbotron and advertising board that would block the businesses’ sightlines.
Anyways, as Paul Sullivan chronicles in the Chicago Tribune, a team official went on local radio and started making veiled threats that the team would be relocate:
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.”
The Cubs were offered copious public financing in neighboring Rosemont (a town with a reputation for rampant nepotism and alleged mob ties) last March, and team owner Tom Ricketts made threats similar to Green’s a couple months later, though nobody really takes them seriously. The tactics are almost certainly little more than a way to let their pesky negotiating adversaries know that their businesses would be worthless, as opposed to merely inconvenienced, if they ever do push the team over the edge.
With 11 seasons left on the 20-year deal, it’s easy to see why it bothers the hell out of the Cubs. The rooftops contributed a reported $4 million last year, which sounds like a lot until you realize that Forbes pegged the franchise’s revenue at $274 million. On top of that, there’s also supposedly $14 million per year from Budweiser on-hold until bleacher talks are resolved.
Essentially, the bleacher owners don’t contribute nearly enough money to the Cubs for the headaches that they cause, but they’re also too costly to just buy out. Tom Ricketts should have been aware of this liability when he purchased the team, but that foresight wouldn’t necessarily make the current predicament any less aggravating.
Related: Wrigley Field Expansion Still Delayed By Legal Threats from Rooftop Bleachers
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[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]