Cubs warn rooftop operators about game-day sales

Posted June 8, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.

ct-biz-rooftops-web-two.jpgFans root for the Cubs from atop the rooftop venue “Wrigley Done Right” on Sheffield. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

By Ameet Sachdev | The Chicago Cubs are crying foul over alleged game day ticket sales to rooftop bars
across the street from Wrigley Field.

Cubs President Crane Kenney sent a letter last week to rooftop operators reminding them that game day sales violate a City of Chicago
ordinance governing the rooftop businesses. The letter was obtained by
the Chicago Tribune.

Kenney also said in the letter that rooftop seats are being sold by ticket brokers and other third parties, another code violation. Only businesses with special club licenses granted by the City of Chicago are allowed to sell admission to their rooftops.

“We intend to pursue this matter to the fullest extent permitted by law,” Kenney warned in the letter.

Mike Lufrano, the team’s general counsel, said the letter was sent after the team learned that a third party was marketing rooftop tickets, in some cases on game days.

“We’re trying to determine what’s going on,” Lufrano said.

The warning, though, surprised some rooftop operators because they say the Cubs benefit when the rooftops are full. The team receives royalties from each of the 16 clubs, in most cases 17 percent of ticket revenues.

“I don’t know why this would bother them,” said Mark Schlenker, who owns Brixen Ivy LLC, a rooftop club at 1044 W. Waveland Ave. “We are not hurting their business.”

He said he does not sell tickets on game days, but declined to comment further because he had not seen the letter.

Rooftop owners say the letter is a sign of how the Cubs are having a harder time selling tickets than in past seasons. The Cubs are averaging 1,233 fewer fans per game through the first 27 games than at the same time last season. Average attendance is 38,369.

Rooftops selling admission on game days would compete directly with walk-up sales to Wrigley. Rooftops have been discounting prices, which include food and drink, to fill their seats, making them more affordable when compared with the cost of a ticket and concessions at Wrigley.

The letter is another example of the uneasy alliance between the team and rooftop owners that continues under the new ownership of the Ricketts family. The team and rooftops agreed to the royalty payments in 2004, after the Cubs sued the rooftop businesses for stealing their product.

Under previous ownership of the Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune, the team sued operators who did not turn over their royalty payments on time.

The Ricketts family has encountered opposition from some of the rooftop owners to its proposal to erect an Toyota advertisement above the left field bleachers. The Chicago City Council is expected to approve the sign on Wednesday.

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  1. IMO June 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Put up big signs all the way around and shut down the rooftops for good.

  2. taggy June 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Whining is contagious. For once it’s not the Cub FANS who are whining—management has joined in the fray.
    I’ll bet ya that since these rooftops started, they have been a huge thorn in the side of Cubs management.