Loukas, whose holdings include the famed Cubby Bear Lounge and dozens of other buildings, came to Wrigleyville in the 1970s. He and his brother bought an apartment building for a fraction of what it’s worth now and charged renters, including a young Tom Ricketts, less than $100 a month.
The rooftop properties are now worth millions, the surrounding neighborhood a far cry from its days of being known for thugs and prostitutes. Cook County records show the properties’ combined market value adds up to more than $60 million, and they are likely worth far more than that.
Under the contract, the rooftop owners pay the Cubs 17 percent of their gross annual revenue. Last season, according to the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, the rooftop owners paid the team $4 million, meaning they brought in $23.5 million.
If those numbers hold for the remaining decade of the contract, the Cubs will be paid $40 million out of nearly a quarter-billion dollars the rooftops take in.
The two sides have differed before, but this dispute is far more serious. The team is planning major improvements at Wrigley Field, including a massive new video board in left field and a smaller sign in right field. The goal would be to complete the whole thing over the next five years and the project is starting to wind its way before city committees for approval.
It sounds simple enough. But this is Chicago.
The rooftop owners don’t like the signs, fearing partial views will hurt business, and the left-field sign alone would be three times as large as the famed scoreboard above the center field bleachers. They have threatened to sue.
The Ricketts family isn’t budging. After buying the team for $845 million in 2009, the family is promising to foot the entire renovation bill but only if it can secure enough advertising revenue from the signs and other efforts. Give the Cubs what they want, the owners say, and the Cubs will take that money and someday deliver the first World Series championship since 1908.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>
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