Wrigley rooftops disclose profit at risk vs. Cubs

In denying a request last month to stop the Chicago Cubs from putting up a right-field video board and outfield advertising signs, a federal judge cited a lack of evidence from the Wrigley rooftop businesses to back up claims the structures would hurt them financially.

In a filing last week in their case against the team, Lakeview Baseball Club and Skybox on Sheffield tried to fill that void.

Records submitted by a consultant for the businesses show a small net income and the possibility of catastrophic losses should ticket sales to their businesses drop because of blocked views.

The data chronicle monthly and year-end income — including ticket sales to Cubs games — and expenses such as mortgage payments. Chris Bue, the consultant, said in court papers that it shows a video board in right field would block views into the ballpark and destroy the businesses.

Without ticket sales, described as the rooftops’ “only significant source of revenue,” the rooftop businesses would have no income and be unable to cover mortgages — fixed costs not dependent on activity stemming from Cubs games, according to the documents filed by Tom Lombardo, an attorney representing the businesses.

“If the proposed right field video board is installed at Wrigley Field, Skybox would have no revenue, and will be unable to pay its filed mortgage and real estate expenses immediately hereafter,” Bue wrote. “If the proposed right field video board is installed at Wrigley Field, Skybox will be insolvent in that it will be unable to pay debts as they become due in the ordinary course of business.”

Bue gave similar statements regarding the outlook for Lakeview Baseball Club.

The rooftop businesses, controlled by commodities trader Edward McCarthy, have accused the Cubs of engaging in anti-competitive behavior and violating the terms of a 20-year, revenue-sharing contract that allowed the rooftops to charge admission to watch games from their bird’s-eye views.

They want the Cubs permanently barred from blocking views into Wrigley.

The team has asked the lawsuit to be dismissed. A spokesman declined comment Monday.

Last month, the team earned a victory when U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall allowed the Cubs to continue their plans for outfield signs and video boards.

In her ruling, Kendall said that the rooftop businesses had not proven they would lose money or become insolvent.

Both sides are due back in court March 23.

But last week’s filings provide a peek into McCarthy’s businesses, which face the prospect of offering tickets on opening day without views into the historic stadium.

Last year, Skybox on Sheffield, at 3627 N. Sheffield, took in nearly $2 million in ticket sales during Cubs games and concerts. Its gross profit was $1.2 million. After operating expenses such as employee payroll, utilities and $651,286 in mortgage payments, its net income was $145,560.

Lakeview Baseball Club, at 3633 N. Sheffield, reported $1.5 million in gross income, including nearly $1.37 million in sales. Its gross profit was $857,573, and after operating expenses, its net income was $39,850. It paid $250,515 toward its mortgage, whose loan balance was $4.25 million through Feb. 26.

Bue, based in Chicago, started LBKD Corp. after working in the health insurance industry and works with small businesses, according to her company’s website.

Lombardo could not be reached for comment.

The documents filed also show the amounts the two rooftop clubs paid the team under the contract’s condition to deliver 17 percent of annual revenue. Last March, Skybox on Sheffield paid $321,995 and Lakeview Baseball Club paid $222,366, payments likely for the 2013 season.

Tension between the Cubs and nearby rooftop businesses lining Waveland and Sheffield avenues have only escalated since the Ricketts family bought the team in 2009.

In January, the family bought three buildings with rooftop businesses and have their eyes on more.



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