(WSCR) Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers and spokesperson for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, has a message for anyone who thinks the rooftop owners are leaching off the Cubs’ product.
“We’re not stealing their product because we pay them,” Murphy told The Mully and Hanley Show. “I don’t think it’s very much different from if you get the Major League package from Comcast or wherever and people come to your bar to watch the Blue Jays.”
The rooftop owners and the Cubs are currently nine years into a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement in which the rooftops agreed to kick back 17 percent of their revenue in exchange for a Cubs’ promise to not change Wrigley Field in a way that would block the rooftops’ view.
As the Cubs look to renovate Wrigley Field by adding signage and a scoreboard to the outfield, this contract that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts called “awkward” is causing major problems for the Cubs’ brass.
“And if I can say one other thing about the ‘awkwardness’ of the contract, (Ricketts) should talk to Crane Kenney and Mike Lufrano, who still work with the Cubs, because they negotiated the contract with us,” Murphy said.
Part of the “awkwardness” of this contract is that it represents all 16 of the rooftops, but some individual rooftops have separate contracts in place.
“There is one giant contract and there are a few individual contracts, so it’s probably a little confusing, but part of the contract is that we can’t be blocked,” Murphy explained.
The Cubs want out of that contract so they can make changes to their ballpark, but the rooftop owners aren’t afraid to use legal action if their contract is breached.
“When you buy a business, you buy its contracts,” Murphy said. “I think people felt the same way about (Carlos) Zambrano and Milton Bradley and maybe to a certain extent (Alfonso) Soriano, whose contracts combined could probably pay for the renovations. That’s just the reality of buying a business – you buy its assets and its liabilities. I don’t feel we’re a liability because we give the Cubs $4 million a year. Collectively, we have spent $50 million renovating our properties to bring them up to code. That has to be taken into account.”
Murphy argues that blocking the rooftops’ view would ultimately mean the end of 16 small businesses in Wrigleyville.
The rooftop owners believe they have a plan in place where both sides could get exactly what they want by building signage and a scoreboard on top of the rooftops.
“I want to remind everyone we have a plan that doesn’t require anybody to go out of business,” Murphy said. “Sometimes, when I’m watching TV and I watch the news shows, they’re showing our plan, not the Cubs’ – the Cubs have never presented their plan. It looks great. There’s a jumbotron. There’s everything they want.
“I absolutely believe there’s a deal to be made. I keep making the point that we don’t have a seat at the table, so some of this is happening around us. … I think we can reach some type of consensus and I’m hopeful that we will.”
And if the Cubs want out of the contract now?
“I always say everything is for sale,” she said. “You can certainly make an offer for the rooftops.”