Wrigley Rooftops

Wrigley Rooftops

Wrigley Rooftops is a name for the sixteen rooftops of residential buildings which have bleachers or seating on them to view baseball games or other major events at Wrigley Field. Since 1914 Wrigley roofs have dotted the neighborhood of Wrigleyville around Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play Major League Baseball. Venues on Waveland Avenue overlook left field, while those along Sheffield Avenue have a view over right field.

The rooftops had always been a gathering place for free views of the game, but until the 1980s, the observers were usually just a few dozen people watching from the flat rooftops, windows and porches of the buildings, with "seating" consisting of a few folding chairs, and with little commercial impact on the team. When the popularity of the Cubs began to rise in the 1980s, formal seating structures began to appear, and building owners began charging admission, much to the displeasure of Cubs management, who saw it as an unreasonable encroachm...Read more

Wrigley Rooftops is a name for the sixteen rooftops of residential buildings which have bleachers or seating on them to view baseball games or other major events at Wrigley Field. Since 1914 Wrigley roofs have dotted the neighborhood of Wrigleyville around Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play Major League Baseball. Venues on Waveland Avenue overlook left field, while those along Sheffield Avenue have a view over right field.

The rooftops had always been a gathering place for free views of the game, but until the 1980s, the observers were usually just a few dozen people watching from the flat rooftops, windows and porches of the buildings, with "seating" consisting of a few folding chairs, and with little commercial impact on the team. When the popularity of the Cubs began to rise in the 1980s, formal seating structures began to appear, and building owners began charging admission, much to the displeasure of Cubs management, who saw it as an unreasonable encroachment.

Various methods of combating this phenomenon were discussed. The idea of a "spite fence", as with Shibe Park in Philadelphia, or the Cubs' previous home, West Side Park, was discussed. The idea was not implemented, nor was it fully abandoned. Before Opening Day in 2002, a "wind screen" was temporarily erected on the ballpark's back screen behind the outfield wall, obscuring some of the view from Wrigley roofs.

When the majority were independent of Cub affiliate ownership prior to 2016, the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association's members were the 16 rooftop venues. Wrigley Rooftops is the Ricketts family's marketing arm and brand for their rooftop holdings through Greystone Sheffield Holdings and Hickory Street Capital.

 
West Side Park with "wildcat" bleachers before a tall fence was built

Soon after Wrigley opened in 1914, the rooftops sprung up around the ball field. In the 1938 World Series, when the Cubs played the Yankees, The Sheffield Baseball Club was the first to charge for admission.[1]

Real estate investor Donal Barry, through an entity, purchased in 2000 1010 W. Waveland (Beyond the Ivy I) then 1048 W. Waveland (originally Beyond The Ivy III, then Sky Lounge Wrigley Rooftop now 1048 Sky Lounge) also in 2000. Barry's entity in 2004 purchased 1038 W. Waveland (Beyond The Ivy II).[2]

In 2002, the Cubs organization filed a lawsuit against the different facilities for copyright infringement. Since operators charge admission to use their amenities and sell licenses to view Major League Baseball, the Cubs asserted that the facilities were illegally using a copyrighted game and sued for royalties.[3] In 2004, 11 of the 13 roofs settled with the club out of court, agreeing to pay 17% of gross revenue in exchange for official endorsement.[4] The city also began investigating the structural integrity of the roofs, issuing citations to those in danger of collapse. With the Cubs and the neighbors reaching agreement, many of the facilities began to feature seating structures: some with bleachers, some with chair seats, and even one with a steel-girdered double deck of seats (see photo). The agreement was to last until 2023.[5]

 
Left field rooftops in 2008
 
View from a left field roof
 
Wrigley double-deck
rooftop seating

In 2013 principal owner Thomas S. Ricketts sought Commission on Chicago Landmarks permission to build "additional seating, new lighting, four additional LED signs of up to 650 square feet (60 m2) and a 2,400-square-foot (220 m2) video board in right field." Ricketts said Wrigley has "the worst player facilities in Major League Baseball".[5] When the roof owners threatened to sue he tempered the design to just "a sign in right field and a video board in left field." After the roof owners did not rescind their threat to sue, Ricketts said in May 2014 that he would attempt to proceed with the original plan even if the matter was fought in court.[5] The Wrigleyville Rooftop Association claim in 2014 that its members spend $50 million to renovate their venues to code after agreeing to revenue-sharing.[2] On January 20, 2015, the roof owners filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Cubs and Ricketts, citing breach of contract.[6]

The Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, began purchasing the rooftop properties in order to control the marketable sight lines into the stadium and by the end of the 2016 season, owned (or controlled via agreement) 11 of the rooftop locations. In 2015, a family venture bought 3643 N. Sheffield Ave. building, 3639 N. Sheffield and 1032 W. Waveland. A Jerry Lasky-managed entity sold 3617, 3619 and 3637 N. Sheffield to the Ricketts in May 2015.[2] Hickory Street Capital, a venture of the Ricketts family, took a stake in the Down the Line Rooftop (3621-3625 Sheffield Ave.) along with right of first refusal in 2010. James and Camelia Petrozzini moved their share of Down the Line to a living trust then the Petrozzini died in 2014. Hickory Street sued that the trust transfer violated the right of first refusal. Ricketts family ventures outright purchased seven rooftop buildings while purchase the mortgages on three Sheffield rooftop properties in receivership. The Petrozzini Trust agreed to sell Down the Line Rooftop to Hickory Street in December 2016.[7][8] Ricketts family's Greystone Sheffield Holdings bought the three W. Waveland rooftops from Donal Barry on January 13, 2016. Also in January, the Ricketts launched its Wrigley Rooftops marketing brand and arm.[2] The Ricketts family add the Brixen Ivy located at 1044 W Waveland to its rooftop portfolio.[9]

In May 2017, the Cubs and the Rickets family formed Marquee Sports & Entertainment as a central sales and marketing company for the various Rickets family sports and entertainment assets, the Cubs, Wrigley Rooftops and Hickory Street Capital.[10]

^ "Best Seats in House Are Outside Wrigley". New York Times. 2005-06-12. Retrieved March 17, 2020. ^ a b c d Ecker, Danny (January 25, 2016). "Here's how much the Cubs owners paid for their rooftops". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved March 17, 2020. ^ "The roof as a copyright infringement tool". 2002-12-22. ^ "Team to receive portion of rooftop revenue". ESPN.com. 2004-01-12. ^ a b c "Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts opts to return to original Wrigley Field renovation plan - ESPN Chicago". Espn.go.com. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2014-05-23. ^ Hopkins, Jared (2015-01-21). "Wrigley rooftops sue Cubs, accusing team of price-fixing scheme". Chicago Tribune. ^ Ecker, Danny. "Ricketts family buys 10th Wrigley Field rooftop". chicagobusiness. Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 21 December 2016. ^ Ecker, Danny. "Cubs owners getting their 11th Wrigley rooftop". chicagobusiness. Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 21 December 2016. ^ Koziarz, Jay (April 11, 2016). "The Ricketts Family Pick Up One More Rooftop, Push for Street Closures". Curbed Chicago. Retrieved March 17, 2020. ^ Fisher, Eric (May 29, 2017). "Ricketts to open new sales and marketing firm". Sports Business Daily. American City Business Journals. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
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