In a repeat of the legal fight four years ago between the ball club and rooftop operators, the Chicago Cubs are threatening to obstruct the views from two rooftops across the street from Wrigley Field if the operators don’t pony up 17 percent of gross ticket revenue from the seats.
Chicago ticket broker Max Waisvisz and partner Tom Gramatis own the two rooftops in question, located just beyond Right Field on North Sheffield Street. The duo also owns a third rooftop in the same area, and for the 2007 season, they paid the Cubs $420,000 for ticket sales from that one rooftop, Waisvisz told TicketNews.
The two are in the midst of trying to negotiate a deal with the team for the other two rooftops and have until April 15, as mandated by the Cubs, to reach an agreement with the team or the Cubs will erect screens to block views, the same tactic they employed four years ago. Wrigley Field seats just over 41,000 people, and there has been a long tradition of fans watching games from the rooftops of Waveland Avenue and North Sheffield Street.
In fact, the Cubs officially sanction 12 rooftops on their website, BallparkRooftops.com, which generated in excess of $18 million in ticket sales in 2007, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, resulting in more than $3 million in revenue for the team.
“We’re just trying to negotiate a new contract for the new buildings,” Waisvisz said, adding that the two new buildings came online after the 2004 agreement. Combined, the three rooftops hold about 600 people, and the partnership sells tickets for between $75 and $250 per game. All told, the three rooftops can generate more than $6.5 million per season, according to Waisvisz.
In some aspects, the Waisvisz/Gramatis rooftops allow for a better fan experience for Cubs games because they serve higher quality food and offer inside clubhouse seating to protect fans from the elements. “We’ve tried to cover every aspect of the corporate hospitality market,” Waisvisz said, adding that the clubhouses can accommodate more than 100 people each.
For the Cubs, the issue is fairness among all rooftop operators. “We very much hope we don’t have to [erect the screens], but it’s unfair to our other rooftop partners to let one rooftop get away without paying,” Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice president of community relations, recently told the Sun-Times.
(The image accompanying this story is from SunTimes.com)