Judges rules for Cubs in signs dispute
A federal judge on Thursday denied a request from rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field to temporarily halt installation of signs they say will block their view and violate a contract they have with the Chicago Cubs.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ruled that the "vague possibility" that installing the signs could affect rooftop businesses wasn't enough to grant a temporary restraining order. The ruling means the Cubs will avoid a setback as they renovate the historic ballpark.
During a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for two of the rooftop businesses said the Cubs' plans violate federal antitrust law and a revenue-sharing agreement the team signed with the rooftop owners. The businesses said a federal lawsuit they filed against the team's owners last month will take too long to go to trial before renovations are complete.
"Without the views they have nothing to sell," attorney Thomas Lombardo said.
Cubs' attorneys said the team has the right to install the signs and the team argued in court papers that the rooftops didn't provide evidence that they will "suffer any harm."
"The point is to renovate Wrigley Field to generate revenues to make a better product, get better players on the field and win a World Series," Cubs attorney Andrew Kassof said.
Work at Wrigley would add two video scoreboards and four advertising signs behind new outfield bleachers, which the team said next month would be ready in May. The team's first home game is April 5.
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. 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 city has approved the Cubs' renovation plan, and the team pushed ahead despite objections from rooftop owners.