Rooftop owners want restraining order to stop Wrigley signs

AP News
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Posted: Feb 13, 2015 1:00 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — The owners of two rooftop bars with views into Wrigley Field are asking a judge to temporarily block the Chicago Cubs from putting up a video scoreboard and advertising signs that they say would block their view.

The owners asked for the restraining order in a court filing Thursday, saying a federal lawsuit they filed against the team's owners last month will take too long to go to trial before renovations at the historic baseball stadium are complete.

Ongoing work at Wrigley would add two video scoreboards and four advertising signs behind new outfield bleachers. Court papers obtained by the Chicago Tribune say that a revenue-sharing agreement between the Cubs and rooftop owners forbids the team from blocking rooftop views through 2023.

The rooftop businesses line streets outside Wrigley and offer views of Cubs games without going into the stadium. The private owners of the buildings pay a share of their ticket sales to the Cubs.

But the team has frequently sparred with rooftop owners over renovations, which the Cubs say are essential to bringing in more revenue. Rooftop owners say the proposed signs have already hurt business for the coming season and will lower property values.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in an email Friday that the team had no further comment.

Rooftop owners filed the lawsuit in January, asking the court for a financial judgment and to prevent the construction of signs that would block their views. The businesses in the lawsuit are across the street from right field.

The lawsuit alleges that Cubs officials told the businesses they didn't like rooftops competing with the team for ticket sales, and that officials proposed a price-fixing operation as a remedy to waning attendance inside Wrigley. When rooftop owners declined, the Cubs used the advertising signs as intimidation, the suit says.

An attorney for the Cubs said in January that the team would fight the lawsuit and continue with renovations. The bleachers in left and right field are currently being replaced, but they won't be ready until May. A video board in left field is scheduled to be finished by April 5, and another in right field is slated to be done in May.

The city has approved the Cubs' renovation plan, and the team pushed ahead despite objections from rooftop owners.