by Kent Sterling
Sure, the Chicago Cubs are a terrible baseball team, but maybe the games on the field at Wrigley Field aren’t the most important being played in Wrigleyville.
The battle between the rooftop owners and the Cubs has made headlines for years as the video boards the Cubs would like to erect above the bleachers are being blocked by the less than cordial legal maneuvers of rooftop owners who are reluctant to agree that the view from their buildings be obstructed.
Tickets for the rooftop were listed today on Amazon’s Groupon-esque offering for $69. That ticket comes with an open bar and full unlimited access to a buffet. That special is evidence of a serious lack of interest in the Chicago National League Ballclub driven by a roster filled with untalented journeymen.
It’s damn likely hunger for tickets available from the Cubs to actually sit in Wrigley Field during its 100th anniversary season are also soft as a goose down pillow, but the Cubs have deeper pockets than the rooftop owners, so destroying its own product is likely to cause their quarry more critical injury than the Cubs business office will suffer.
The insanity of the battle between the Cubs and the Rooftop Owners Association will continue until both sides are damaged equally by the lack of a resolution, or the expiration of the completely idiotic 20-year revenue sharing deal crafted 10 years ago which forces the rooftop folks to deliver 17% of their gross to the Cubs as a de facto fee for allowing fans to watch the Cubs without buying a Wrigley Field ticket.
The remedies for the Cubs are few without an agreement, and business life for the rooftop owners will end in ten years when the deal expires, and with it their standing to block the erection of the signs that have been approved by the various committees that wield such power in Chicago.
In the meantime, the Cubs can try to starve the rooftops by wounding their own product to the extent that fans will refuse to watch.
It’s lunacy to seriously suggest that the Cubs are seriously employing this self flagellation in order to harm their greedy neighbors, but the willingness for the Ricketts Family to invest so poorly in upgrading the roster is beyond any other explanation.
The Cubs starting lineup is likely to include Ryan Sweeney, Junior Lake, Nate Schierholtz, Donnie Murphy, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney (coming off the second worst runs created number in Cubs history back to 1894), Anthony Rizzo, and Wellington Castro. The starting rotation is worse, and the bullpen is even more horrifying than the rotation.
If there is a more plausible explanation for the paucity of talent at every position for the Cubs, I’m all ears. As Mr. Spock said in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
So the Cubs will struggle to avoid losing 100 games this season, draw 2,000,000 fans, and watch the rooftop owners resort to massive discounts to lure fans to eat and drink in proximity to the ballpark.
Because the Cubs are controlling their expenses while marketing the future stars who will open the season in Des Moines, West Tennessee, Daytona, and other minor league outposts, they will continue to profit. The rooftop owners will cut checks for 17% of their take, serve endless food and drinks to those unwilling to pay $43.68 for bleachers seats (calculated by dividing the six-pack season ticket package of $262.08, including taxes and fees) plus concessions for the right to sit inside Wrigley Field.
The Cubs vs. the rooftop owners is a battle that the Cubs will win eventually, and it looks like they are committed to making it painful for everybody, including the miserable fans who will force themselves to watch bad baseball for another season just so the rooftop owners profits wither.