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Cubs: Wrigley Rooftop Owners Need to Present Plans to Us, Not Media

By Serena Dai | January 25, 2013 12:59pm | Updated on January 25, 2013 5:01pm
 A spokesman for the Ricketts family, who owns the Cubs, said rooftop owners need to present their plan to the team — not the media — if they have a serious proposal.
A spokesman for the Ricketts family, who owns the Cubs, said rooftop owners need to present their plan to the team — not the media — if they have a serious proposal.
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DNAinfo/Michael Shin

WRIGLEYVILLE — After Wrigley rooftop owners unveiled a plan at a news conference to solve a dispute with the Cubs, a spokesman for the team's owner said that the businesses should be talking to the ballclub — and not the media.

"They would be advised to discuss it with the team instead of holding press conferences because a deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city to move forward," admonished Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the Ricketts family, who owns the Cubs.

"Time is a wasting," Culloton told DNAinfo. "They really need to get it together."

At a news conference Friday morning, Beth Murphy of Murphy's Rooftops and George Loukas of Cubby Bear, both representing 16 rooftop owners, offered to put digital signs on their buildings with the revenue going to the team.

That plan would allow the Cubs to make revenue from more billboards while also keeping the view of the field open for the businesses.

The plan featured seven digital billboards that rotate ads based on the game time. 

"It gives a creative solution," Murphy said. "It's a win-win."

The Cubs want more signage at the back of the bleachers, which the rooftop owners say could block views from their businesses.

The rooftop owners say they've helped build the neighborhood and deserve to stay in business. An independent study by the Platt Retail Institute of their plan showed placing digital billboards on the rooftop buildings could generate $10 millio to $20 million a year, they said.

When asked whether they thought the Cubs were trying to swalllow surrounding businesses and real estate, Loukas responded: "Absolutely."

"We sacrificed a lot [to build business]," Loukas said. "We want to work hand-in-hand with the Cubs."

But Culloton said the news conference and Murphy's Wednesday presentation at the 44th Ward's Community Directed Development Council meeting, a closed-door meeting for business leaders and ward residents, were not a proper way to negotiate a deal.

Rooftop owners and the Cubs have discussed the plans in the past few months but no official offer sheet or term letter was presented. 

"It was short of sitting down to put together a complicated business transaction," Culloton said. "If they truly have a proposal, they need to speak with one of us."

Culloton said the family had heard about three other proposals, so Cubs representatives at the CDDC meeting did not report back to the Ricketts on any presentation Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman for Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said the Cubs were well aware of the proposal and that Murphy discussed it with Cubs representatives Wednesday. 

Cubs management Crane Kenney, director of business operations, Mike Lufrano, executive vice president of community affairs, and Julian Green, vice president of communications and community affairs, were all at the Wednesday CDDC meeting where Murphy presented the plan, according to several people in attendance. 

"[Kenney] saw the plan," McLaughlin said. "They had a conversation about the plan."

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.