“We’re not going out of our way to hurt their business,” said Crane Kenney, the team’s president of business operations. But, he added, “if in order for us to generate the resources and therefore win on the field it has an impact on their business, that’s how it goes.”
The ballpark holds 41,000 fans. When full, the rooftop businesses offer seats for another 3,000, and it can easily be a cheaper option since food and drinks are often included.
“I went online and got two tickets for $79 each for the game, all the beer I can drink and all the food,” said Dennis Gillespie, who was on his way to a rooftop for a recent game with his wife, Barb. He figured there was no way to get all that across the street at Wrigley, where two tickets in the upper deck cost can go for as much as $77 each, with a beer running another $7.50 and hot dogs more than $4 each.
The Cubs recently launched a website, wrigleyfield.com, asking for online signatures in support of the project that will “allow your Chicago Cubs to play in the Friendly Confines for generations to come.” The rooftops’ association has hired a public relations firm.
Tom Tunney, the alderman whose ward includes Wrigley, has sided with the rooftop owners a number of times. In 2010, he agreed to support the large Toyota sign that rises above the left-field bleachers only after the Cubs agreed not to put up any more signs like that for four years.
According to the state board of elections, the rooftops have contributed more than $150,000 since 2003 to Tunney through individual contributions or hosted events. He has also received more than $15,000 from the Cubs and team executives, though records don’t show any contributions since 2010.
“Anybody who knows Tom Tunney knows money doesn’t influence me,” Tunney said. “I will do what’s in the best interest of the community.”
The owners say some in their ranks are carrying a lot of debt after pouring millions into their rooftop operations. Mark Schlenker, who has a stake in two rooftop buildings, noted that he bought one of them at a bankruptcy auction.
“That sign in right field will put me out of business,” said Schlenker, who fears customers will simply choose rooftops with the best views and leave the rest searching for fans.
Kenney, the Cubs executive, said there will not be another contract once the 20-year deal runs its course. And when that happens, he said, the question of whether the Cubs would be within their rights to again erect windscreens to prevent rooftop peeking might find its way into a courtroom.<< previous 1 2 3