Wrigley Rooftops Expect to Lose Over $400K in Ticket Sales to Video Board

Show of hands: how many fathers out there have a shirt, mug, or whatever that has some iteration of “Best Dad Ever!” emblazoned on it? I’d venture to guess a lot of people are now looking at you funny because you raised your hand for seemingly no reason. And unless it was a white elephant gift from the office Christmas party, you probably got it from your kid(s).

But are you really the best dad ever? No, because I am. But even if you were, you didn’t really get this ringing declaration of your superior paternal value because it’s true. You got it because they’re your kids. You sired them, so they kind of owe their lives to you.

So when I read in the Chicago Tribune that Marc Anguiano, a consultant hired by Lakeview Baseball Club and Skybox on Sheffield, said that the clubs expect to lose roughly $410,000 as a result of the new video board in right field (see featured image and click here for more), I had to lick the giant salt rock at the beach bar here at the resort I’m enjoying. According to court papers filed Friday, the 2,250-square-foot abomination of modern technology would cost the clubs up to two-thirds of their committed group sales.

But is the video board really the worst thing ever? No, because I am — wait, that’s not right. But even if the blocked view is bad, the rooftop owners didn’t get this stinging report of potential losses because it’s true. They got it because it’s their consultant. They hired him, so he kind of owes his livelihood to them.

The filing holds that the two clubs, both on Sheffield, have sold nearly 6,000 tickets to both Cubs games and concerts. In order to judge potential losses, they reached out to 31 of the 44 groups that had purchased 10 or more tickets (which is about 2,800 seats and $433,000) and found that 26 of those groups would cancel if views were blocked.

There were also a whopping 840-some tickets sold through discount event sites Groupon and LivingSocial (I get hit up with offers from the latter all the time, but have never bought Cubs tickets through them), totaling about $83,000. Both sites allow refunds, though I’d imagine the reported dissatisfaction would be mitigated by the reduced price of said tickets.

Here are some more details from the Trib piece:

Anguiano’s filing stated one group promised not to cancel despite the threat of blocked views; four groups, representing 139 tickets worth $20,451, said they “might” keep their events; 11 groups of repeat customers have declined to buy tickets without guaranteed views; and six groups worth $85,697 in sales won’t finish their orders unless views are guaranteed.

Records from last year show Skybox on Sheffield, at 3627 N. Sheffield., and Lakeview Baseball Club, at 3633 N. Sheffield, combined for about $3.3 million in ticket sales for Cubs games and concerts in the ballpark.

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.

So McCarthy is claiming that the Cubs will be putting businesses into the red, eh? Sounds like a Communist plot to me.

I think that last paragraph is most telling here. Yes, I’ve gone on record as supporting the Cubs in this matter and no, I don’t like seeing small businesses go under. But this isn’t my in-laws’ mom-and-pop pharmacy competing with Wal-Mart’s evil empire. And lest I sound as though I’m being too harsh on the roofers, I don’t mean to say that there isn’t some impact on their business.

Actually, I think I should direct a good deal of my ire toward those groups who said they’d back out of their deals if the video board went up. It’s not as though this is some kind of new development that Tom Ricketts just thought up on a whim; we’ve all known about this for well over a year.

I can’t help but think of my days as an Applebee’s server and the time a woman ordered a fried chicken salad, ate all the chicken, then asked to exchange the salad for an order of chicken fingers. At that same table was a woman who ordered an appletini, drank most of it, then demanded a remake because it lacked verisimilitude when compared to the picture in the menu since it was missing the cherry garnish. Needless to say, my tip was less than $400K.

What I’m saying here is that there is a degree of understanding, of caveat emptor, involved in this that needs to be taken into account. Ever buy an obstructed-view seat at Wrigley? Did you get a refund? I didn’t go to the clubs’ websites or do research on the available seats on LivingSocial, but I doubt there was a disclaimer there as to the possibility of an obstructed view from the video board.

Was this the result of hubris on the owner’s part, believing that he’d win his court case and force his pain-in-the-ass neighbors to take down their gaudy lawn ornament? Or is this just another ploy to make the little guy seem a bit more pitiable that perhaps is truly the case?

I have no doubt that some groups will cancel their orders, though I find it incredibly irresponsible by both the clubs and the ticket buyers to have not accounted for the inevitability of an obstructed view. Besides, anyone who sells the view as part of the rooftop experience is pitching snake oil and anyone who buys on that premise is as gullible who thought Rafael Palmeiro’s finger was divining the truth.

So here’s a thought: Tom Ricketts needs to rustle up another few minority investors who are willing to buy out Mr. McCarthy and end these shenanigans so that we can all move on. Or maybe just sit down at the bargaining table and renegotiate the 17% the rooftops hand over to the Cubs. It seems to me that  both sides are letting their pride get in the way of what could be a relatively simple solution.

But what do I know, I’m just a blogger and a fan. I would, however, like to see this issue resolved without further acrimony. There’s so much going in the right direction for the Cubs right now, so to have Schleprock’s cloud hovering over Sheffield is just a bit of a downer.

What do you all think though: Is the rooftop consultant’s estimate accurate? Should the businesses or their ticketholders be blamed for not knowing better in regard to the views? Inquiring minds want to know.



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