The Commission on Chicago Landmarks issued a decision wholly inconsistent with its mission of preserving and protecting historic properties in the City of Chicago by approving dramatic changes that adversely affect specifically protected elements of Wrigley Field. Contrary to most landmark debates, this action was taken without community participation or any scheduled public hearings. The language passed today appears to allow for additional bleacher signage without the consent of the Commission. Rooftop owners – a significantly affected partner – have been intentionally excluded by the Cubs and City of Chicago as decisions to aid the Ricketts family have been rushed through.
The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association has released the following statement from Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers in reaction to today’s events:
“Today’s decision is a blow to anyone who cares deeply for the historic and special nature of Wrigley Field. We, like many residents of the Lakeview community, feel blindsided by the total disregard of the commissioners who ignored years of careful work that went into crafting the 2004 Landmark Ordinance and the corresponding contractual agreement between the Chicago Cubs and the rooftops. We want to see a modernized Wrigley Field, but throughout this process, the affected small business owners have been shut out to create a more favorable deal for a billionaire family.”
“In January, rooftop owners proposed a solution that would preserve the feel of Wrigley Field, provide the Ricketts family revenue needed to modernize the ball park while keeping rooftops in business. Unfortunately, the Ricketts family muscled through a plan today that adversely impacts Wrigley Field and the surrounding business and homes. As small business owners who have spent more than 30 years and tens of millions of dollars investing in our neighborhood, our input should have been sought and valued, but instead, we have been intentionally excluded with arrogant disregard.”
Fast Facts about the 2004 Landmark Ordinance:
-The 2004 Landmark Ordinance cited the “unenclosed, open-air character” and “uninterrupted sweep of bleachers” as one of the features that must be preserved.
-An earlier 2003 Landmark Designation Report specifically cited the view of the surrounding buildings as a contributing element.
– Mayor Daley said at the time that “protecting the surrounding neighborhood is just as important as protecting the ballpark itself.”
-The passage of the 2004 Landmark Ordinance coincided with a 20-year contract between the Cubs and Rooftops, which included the Rooftops dedicating 17% of their gross revenue to the Cubs. The Rooftops have already paid more than $20 million to the Cubs.
Regulations by the City of Chicago in 2004 resulted in a $50 million investment by the neighboring Rooftops to upgrade their facilities due to the 20-year contractual agreement which now stands in peril due to today’s events.