Ricketts family to reopen Sheffield rooftop

May 20, 2010 10:54 PM

By Ameet Sachdev

The billionaire Ricketts family likes real estate in Lakeview.

The owner of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field has struck a deal to invest in a building on Sheffield Avenue, allowing it to reopen its rooftop deck, where fans can watch a game in a party atmosphere.

The deal adds a new wrinkle to the love-hate partnership between the Cubs and neighboring building owners, who charge fans to watch games from rooftops. The businesses give the Cubs 17 percent of their revenue as part of a 2004 settlement with Tribune Co., the team’s previous owner, which accused them, in effect, of stealing the team’s product. Tribune Co. owns the Chicago Tribune.

Since then, the Cubs and the rooftop owners have generally gotten along. But the Ricketts family, which bought the team last year, has rekindled some animosity. Its attempt to erect a large Toyota advertisement atop the bleachers has upset some building owners. They say they are concerned the team would add more signs that could block rooftop views, destroying their businesses.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has said there are no plans for future signs in the outfield, and it appears the team will receive a city permit to erect the Toyota sign.

Dennis Culloton, the Ricketts family’s spokesman, said the investment shows commitment to the rooftop businesses and the neighborhood. The Cubs’ licensing agreement with the rooftop businesses runs for 20 years.

The family has agreed to provide capital to the rooftop business, at 3621 N. Sheffield Ave. The building is owned by James Petrozzini, a Chicago real estate investor.

Petrozzini’s lease with last season’s rooftop operator ran out, and the building is not selling admission to view Cubs games.

“The Ricketts family considers the rooftops partners and knows many fans enjoy the rooftop experience as a way to see a Cubs game,” Culloton said. “With the building in question, investing helped to keep one of those venues available to fans.”

Terms of the family’s investment were not disclosed. Petrozzini could not be reached for comment.

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