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Cubs Apply for Permit for Right-Field Sign; Rooftop Owners Call Legal Team

By Serena Dai | January 27, 2014 1:59pm | Updated on January 27, 2014 3:25pm
 The view of the field from a Sheffield rooftop with a mockup erected by the Cubs on Oct. 30, 2013.
The view of the field from a Sheffield rooftop with a mockup erected by the Cubs on Oct. 30, 2013.
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obtained by DNAinfo Chicago

LAKEVIEW — The Cubs moved forward on their promise to erect a right-field sign this season by applying for a city permit to put up a 650-square-foot ad — increasing the chances that the team will end up in a court battle with surrounding rooftop owners.

Talks between the team and the rooftops on their 20-year revenue-sharing deal reached a standstill last week, with the rooftop owners naming the Cubs in a lawsuit unrelated to the contract.

The legal action and stalled negotiations pushed the team to move forward on a planned scripted sign promoting Budweiser, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Monday. The team requested the permit from the city on Friday.

An "out-of-court settlement is always preferred," Green said. "We need to take this action now. We stated last summer that our intent was to move forward with this right-field sign before the season, given that we had a corporate partner on board. That is still our intent."

In response, Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said: "This is an unfortunate turn of events because our hope was to find a solution to this matter. Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs. We have instructed our legal team to proceed accordingly."

The owners of the buildings surrounding Wrigley Field have repeatedly said they plan to sue the Cubs if their views are blocked. In the fall, the Cubs erected a mockup of a scripted sign and said it proved that Sheffield Avenue rooftops would have views.

But rooftop owners called the assertion "completely false."

"We’ve been pretty clear about the action we’re going to take," McLaughlin said at the time.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has said the team will not start the $500 million plan to restore the field and develop the surrounding area until the threat of the lawsuit went away.

The sign, however, can be put up without developing the rest of the field. The Cubs hope to put it up before the beginning of the season, though the action should not be "construed as a plan to move forward" with renovations, Green said.

Green said that team officials and rooftop owners are scheduled to meet again this week to continue negotiations.

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 management of the iconic team.