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Wrigley Done Right: The Ultimate Rooftop Experience - Click for tickets

Cubs vs. Rooftop Owners

retrieved 2-6-2004

Team to receive portion of rooftop revenue

Monday, January 12, 2004
ESPN.com news services

The cost of tradition just got more expensive, at least for the owners of the rooftop grandstands surrounding Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Cubs and owners of the famous building-top seats have come to a 20-year agreement that would require the owners to pay the team millions of dollars each year, the Chicago Tribune reported in Monday's editions.

The owners of 11 buildings will pay the Cubs 17 percent of their gross revenue, which, with approximately 1,700 rooftop seats, could cost owners more than $2 million a year, Alderman Thomas Tunney of the 44th Ward told The Tribune.

The settlement stems from a December 2002 lawsuit brought against the owners by the Cubs after the team's plans to expand the bleacher sections in Wrigley Field failed. The team accused the owners of stealing the team's product, copyright infringement and unjust enrichment at the Cubs' expense.

Owners of two of the buildings have not agreed to the settlement and plan to fight the agreement in court.

The owners and team officials have not yet signed the agreement, and the settlement must receive court approval before it can take effect. That could be as early as this season, The Tribune reported.

"This issue is really between two successful businesses and I'm glad they can reach an agreement out of court," said Tunney, whose ward includes the ballpark.

While the settlement does not affect the team's continuing wish to add about 2,000 bleacher seats at Wrigley, the rooftop owners argue that by taking a cut of the profits from each seat, the Cubs in effect get their expansion, a source familiar with the rooftop owners' side told The Tribune.

"This deal does not mean we are letting down our opposition to an expansion or that it paves the way for an expansion. Our view is, with this agreement, the Cubs have gotten their expansion," the source told the newspaper.

Another source close to negotiations said: "It's an amazing deal for the Cubs. They are just handed $2 million for doing nothing."

Tunney told The Tribune that if the Wrigley bleacher expansion is completed in the next eight years, according to the agreement, the Cubs would have to compensate those rooftop owners whose views were obstructed.

According to the report, lawyers for both sides reached the agreement after 12 hours of negotiations on Friday, which included settlement offers from both the Cubs and rooftop owners.

The owners' first offer was to collectively pay the Cubs $300,000 a year for 50 years, but the Cubs responded with a counteroffer in which the owners would owe the team 20 percent of the annual rooftop revenue over 10 years, the paper reported.

retrieved 2-6-2004

Rooftop owners and Cubs OK deal
But 3 still plan for March trial

January 30, 2004
By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter

After prolonged and sometimes acrimonious negotiations, the Chicago Cubs and owners of 10 of 13 rooftop businesses bordering Wrigley Field have reached a formal agreement settling their long-running legal dispute.

Representatives of both sides declined to outline details of the accord, but Ald. Thomas Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley, said Thursday that it follows the general terms of a tentative 20-year agreement reached with the help of a federal judge on Jan. 9.

The rooftop owners will pay about 17 percent of their revenue for legal access to the games, Tunney said. The owners could be compensated during the early years of the agreement if the views of their patrons were hindered by any alteration to the ballpark, including a proposed expansion of Wrigley's bleachers.

"These are two successful businesses and they're [now] going to do some joint marketing," Tunney said. "I am glad they are working together after being adversarial for so many years. I'm glad they were able to figure out revenue sharing."

The Cubs are expected to receive roughly $1.2 million to $1.7 million a year.

"We look forward to a long and productive partnership," said Cubs President Andy MacPhail.

But MacPhail said the team will pursue its suit against the three rooftop owners who are not part of the settlement. Those businesses are at 1038 W. Waveland Ave., 3633 N. Sheffield Ave. and 3637 N. Sheffield.

"While a negotiated settlement is always preferable, if there is no other option, we are prepared to follow through with the litigation," MacPhail said.

Chris Gair, attorney for the owners, said his three remaining clients plan to go to trial on March 2.

"We are not going to be bullied by the Tribune Co. or the Chicago Cubs Inc.," he said. "We are completely confident in our position. The Cubs don't own the view from our buildings. We own the view from our buildings."

The Cubs are owned by Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune.

The ballclub filed suit against the rooftop owners in U.S. District Court in late 2002 after months of negotiations. The team charged that the business owners stole its product and infringed on its copyright to "unjustly enrich themselves to the tune of millions of dollars each year."

Cubs officials estimated that the owners grossed $8 million to $10 million annually when the team was spending nearly $80 million in player salaries and millions of dollars more to operate and maintain Wrigley and finance baseball operations.

The copyright allegation centered on the owners' use of Cubs telecasts to help rooftop patrons follow the action on the field.

In the weeks before the suit was filed, the owners had offered to pay the Cubs $1 million a year. Team officials countered with a $3 million proposal.

Before that, the owners campaigned against any bleachers expansion, and team officials installed windscreens designed to impair the view of the field from rooftop seats.

Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune


retrieved 2-6-2004

Owners to pay 17 percent of revenue

Friday, January 30, 2004
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs finalized a deal to end their dispute with most of the owners of rooftop bleachers that overlook Wrigley Field.

The deal generally follows a tentative 20-year agreement reached earlier this month with the help of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier, according to Alderman Thomas Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, and Beth Murphy, who owns a rooftop bleacher business.

The rooftop business owners agreed to pay the team about 17 percent of their revenue -- expected to bring the Cubs between $1.2 million to $1.7 million a year. The agreement also includes provisions for the owners to be reimbursed if their views are hindered by ballpark alterations, including a proposed expansion of Wrigley's bleachers.

The deal was signed Tuesday by the Cubs and owners of 10 of the 13 rooftop businesses the team had sued, Murphy said. She owns Murphy's Bleachers -- a tavern just beyond the center-field wall -- and a rooftop site down the street.

"I am delighted that we reached a settlement. That we reached it this way instead of in court means that there will be more goodwill on either side," she said. "To have an acrimonious relationship with the Cubs isn't good for the neighborhood or for us."

The Cubs referred questions to Mark McGuire, the team's executive vice president of business operations. He did not immediately return calls for comment Friday.

The dispute started when the Cubs began arguing with the rooftop owners over plans to expand the stadium, with the rooftop owners fearing their views would be obstructed. In December 2002, the Cubs sued the rooftop owners, accusing them of stealing the team's product, copyright infringement and unjust enrichment at the Cubs' expense.

The team also temporarily hung dark screens on the outfield fences to try to prevent free peeks at the field.

Cubs president Andy MacPhail told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Friday that the team will pursue its lawsuit against the three rooftop owners who were not part of the settlement.

"We are completely confident in our position," said Chris Gair, a lawyer for the three owners. "The Cubs don't own the view from our buildings. We own the view from our buildings."

Skybox: we'll 'never pay anything' to Cubs

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs plan to block the view of Wrigley Field from the only rooftop that has not agreed to share revenues with the team.

Cubs President Andy MacPhail would not say how the Cubs would block the baseball field's view from Skybox on Waveland.

Twelve of the thirteen rooftop business that overlook Wrigley have agreed to share revenues after disputing with the team for years. Skybox has not agreed.

Skybox's attorney Chris Gair says the 125-seat rooftop will "never pay anything" to the Cubs.
Alderman Tom Tunney says the Cubs need to continue to build goodwill in the community and blocking Skybox's view does not help.

But George Loukas of the Wrigleyville Rooftop Owners Association says the other rooftop owners will not feel sorry for Skybox if its view is blocked.


Rooftop holdout fights for view

April 8, 2004
By John Bebow
Tribune staff reporter

Four days before the Cubs' home opener, the last holdout rooftop business near Wrigley Field will be asking a federal judge to prevent the Cubs from blocking the view of spectators at Skybox on Waveland.

And the company, at 1038 W. Waveland Ave., wants U.S. District Judge James Holderman to go forward with a trial in the stadium-view lawsuit Monday, the same day as the Cubs' home opener. Holderman will hear arguments from both sides Thursday morning.

Cubs' attorneys, in court papers Wednesday, reiterated intentions to block the views of Skybox on Waveland patrons, who watch the game from rooftop seats behind the left-field foul pole, 460 feet from home plate.

"The Cubs have tested various designs," team attorney John McCambridge said. "The Cubs intend to employ one of them, beginning on Opening Day, to block Skybox on Waveland's view."

The Cubs and a dozen other rooftop businesses recently settled their 2-year-old fight over ballpark views. The unspecified view-blocking schemes have caused tensions to flare between the team and Skybox on Waveland, which has vowed to never pay the Cubs.

Skybox on Waveland attorney Chris Gair argued that an immediate trial would stop the Cubs from employing a stall tactic aimed at putting the company out of business.

"Recognizing that the lawsuit is likely to fail, and thus has no coercive power, the Cubs are now happy to put it off until after they can win outside the courtroom," Gair said in court papers.

McCambridge countered that Skybox on Waveland shouldn't get a free view because all its competitors have agreed to pay more than $1 million per year. He also noted previous testimony in which Skybox on Waveland said it would continue to operate even if the Cubs didn't play games at Wrigley Field "because it sells a 'different product' than the Cubs, which is more akin to a 'golf outing' or 'renting a boat or a yacht on Lake Michigan.'"

The Cubs are owned by Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune.

Workers at other rooftop businesses said they have watched the baseball club try large balloons and erecting scaffolding near the left-field foul pole in recent days.

"I don't see how they're going to do it without blocking everyone else's view," said Bill Murphy, who was painting a neighboring rooftop business Wednesday.
Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune

Cubs, holdout rooftop business reach deal

April 8, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Cubs and a holdout rooftop business settled a federal lawsuit Thursday after the team had reiterated its plans to block the business' view of Wrigley Field starting with Monday's home opener.

Chris Gair, attorney for Skybox on Waveland, said Thursday night he could not disclose details of the settlement.

"There's going to be baseball on Monday," he said.

Twelve of the 13 rooftop businesses that overlook the baseball stadium had already agreed to share revenues with the team after fighting with the Cubs for years. Skybox on Waveland was the last remaining defendant in the lawsuit.

The dispute between the rooftops and the Cubs started when the team began arguing with the rooftop owners over plans to expand the stadium. The rooftop owners feared their views of Wrigley would be blocked.

In December 2002, the Cubs sued the rooftop owners, accusing them of stealing the team's product, copyright infringement and unjust enrichment at the Cubs' expense.
The team also temporarily hung dark screens on the outfield fences to try to prevent free peeks at the field.

The majority of rooftop owners agreed to pay about 17 percent of their revenues to the team in the deal struck earlier this year.

A telephone message left for a Cubs spokeswoman was not immediately returned Thursday night.
On Wednesday, team attorneys said in court papers that they were ready to block Skybox on Waveland's view.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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