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CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs signaled that their contentious relationship with the owners of rooftop venues across the street from Wrigley Field is about to become what amounts to a bench-clearing brawl, with a proposal Thursday to erect more outfield signs than the city said it could. That triggered an immediate vow from the rooftop owners to fight in court what they see as a threat to their views.
"We've spent endless hours in negotiations with rooftop businesses," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a video posted on the team's website. "We've gotten nowhere in our talks with them to settle this dispute. It has to end."
But the rooftop owners, who have long made it clear that they'd sue if the Cubs erected anything on the 100-year-old ballpark that cuts into the views from venues they've spent millions of dollars on, were just as adamant that they were not intimidated by what they see as an architectural brushback pitch from the Cubs.
"It appears their zeal to block rooftop owners who pay them millions of dollars a year in royalties knows no bounds," said Ryan McGlaughlin, a spokesman for the rooftop owners, whose contract with the team calls for them to share their revenues with the Cubs. "Unfortunately, this decision by the Ricketts family will now result in this matter being resolved in a court of law."
The City Council approved the Cubs' $500 million renovation plan last summer, but it has been stalled by opposition from the owners of the 15 rooftop venues. They have a contract with Cubs that runs through 2023 requiring them to pay the team 17 percent of their gross annual revenue.
What the Cubs are now planning to do is dramatically revise the expansion plan. While the Cubs have already been granted permission by the city to build a Jumbotron in left field and a video board in right field, the Cubs now want to build a second video scoreboard in right field and four more LED signs in the outfield, each as big as 650 square feet, and erect light standards in the outfield, and add 300 seats.
The plan, which the Cubs will present to the city's Landmarks Commission on June 5, also includes substantially increasing the size of the clubhouse beneath the new outdoor plaza.
The Cubs have maintained that they need the added revenue from the signs to pump money back into the team so it can end its 106-year World Series championship drought - and have not-so-subtly suggested the rooftop owners are standing in the way.
To drive home the point, Ricketts, in his video, appeared in the tiny clubhouse and struggled to keep a straight face as he explained how players take warm-up swings there without a proper batting cage.
A board is placed in front of a wall-mounted TV and a net is lowered from the ceiling. The player plunks a ball onto a tee "just like the ones kids use in Little League," Ricketts says in the video, and takes swings while wedged between a drinks cooler and the clubhouse's fold-out chairs.
While some of the changes sought by the Cubs require Landmark Commission approval, many don't, including design modification to the player facilities, expansion of the Cubs' clubhouse; expansion of the visitors' clubhouse and movement of the bullpen to an area under the bleachers.
"I know this plan is in the best interest of our fans and our players," Ricketts said in the video.
An emailed statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office was supportive.
"Like all Cub fans, the mayor doesn't want to wait for next year and if this proposal helps the Cubs get closer to a ballpark renovation this fall - and the jobs and neighborhood investments that come with it - it's worth taking a look at," it said.
Wrigley field is a big urinal and the CUBs should just move to Rosemont just to end the dollar bonanza the rooftop owners have reaped for years from being next to the worst ballpark in america.
The Cubs should simply MOVE!
Or the owners who have made millions could renovate it with their profits like they should have been doing every year.
That's what they are trying to do...DO try to keep up here Junior.
Tear down this piece of garbage ,its old ,parking sucks, the area sucks ,and best of all the team sucks = period .
Sparky, you can insult Wrigley Field (although I remember when the Bears played there and it does hurt my feelings), but NEVER, NEVER, NEVER insult the Cubs !!!!
Really? You like the area around New Comisky better than the area around Wrigley? You don't have to walk too far from Comisky, before the safety of the area become questionable. The only thing to worry about Wrigley is drunk Cub fans and annoying Cardinal fans.As for parking, take the L. I've never tried to park around Wrigley, becasue I always park in the Loop and take the Red Line to the game.
I liked the old Comisky better.
The only way watch a cubs game is drunk
Bring them to Arizona, Our state needs another losing team to support. We go to games anyway and don't expect them to win so we are never disappointed. If they do happen to win a game here or there it's just a bonus. OH Yea, bring em here
hope for a huge court fight and Tom Ricketts moves the team elsewhere
The Cubs can move if those people want to cause problems.
They have kicked that can down the road. Rosemont made them an offer, but Rosemont? Uggggg
Oops there goes their revenue. :)
They can build a million scoreboards in the outfield stands, it won't change the fact this is a minor league franchise with garbage ownership.
baseball sucks....who cares
Baseball is to chess as football is to checkers. Played a lot of "right field" in Little League, did ya?
Nope, he didn't even make the little league team.
They should move the park to where their fanbase is IOWA.
These jokers have made a fortune ******* on the teet of Wrighly Field. Sorry boys...the free ride is over