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Wrigleyville rooftop owners offer Cubs a compromise

Friday, January 25, 2013

In an effort to keep the peace around Wrigley Field, the owners of the rooftops around the park are offering the Cubs a compromise.

The issue is advertising billboards and the threat to the views of fans sitting on the rooftops.

the proposal calls for seven digital billboards to be installed on the sides of rooftop businesses, With most of the revenue to be given to the Cubs.

"I think it gives a creative solution, a win-win solution, a big palette to sell," Beth Murphy, Murphy's Bleachers.

The plan was announced by two owners of rooftop businesses who commissioned a study that found the signs would generate up to $20 million for the Cubs every season.

It comes as the team is asking the city to ease landmark restrictions for Wrigley Field, allowing for more outfield advertising, a plan these owners fear could put them out of business.

"I don't think you would spend $5 to go sit up on a rooftop to look at the back of a billboard," said George Loukas, owner of Cubby Bear.

"We are 16 small, locally-owned businesses," Murphy said. "And we want to stay in business and continue to be part of the community."

Already, the Cubs are balking at the rooftop proposal, saying signs outside Wrigley Field would make less money..

Without the revenue from new in-park advertising, the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, says they won't be able to fund a proposed $300 million renovation of the park on its own without public tax dollars.

"Businesses across the street say we should be able to restrict you from running your business and ergo restrict your ability to create this giant economic opportunity," said Ricketts family spokesperson Dennis Culloton. "It makes no sense."

But the rooftop owners argue a 2004 agreement between the Cubs and rooftop businesses prohibits the Cubs from blocking their view of the game.

And they say the businesses around Wrigley Field have helped the team's bottom line.

"People not only go to the ballpark for the baseball game, but post-baseball and pre-baseball they get to be entertained by restaurants and bars in the community," Loukas said.

"I know that Tom Ricketts and his siblings enjoy the vibe and feel of the neighborhood," Culloton said. "But for the existence of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, those would be nice three-flats and four-flats."

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