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Chicago Sun-Times

Owners of the rooftop clubs near Wrigley Field sued the city Thursday, seeking to block a city-backed plan that will allow the Cubs to expand the aging ballpark.

The rooftop owners derided the improvement plan as "irrational, arbitrary and capricious."

The lawsuit comes just a month after Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hand-picked Chicago Commission on Landmarks unanimously approved the $375 million plan, which allows the Cubs to build more seating and erect seven new outfield signs, including two Jumbotron screens.

At the time, the rooftop owners strenuously objected to the plan because they said it would cut down their view of the ballpark.

"The rooftops possess a legally protected interest in their views of Wrigley Field," the rooftop owners - who have a revenue-sharing agreement with the Cubs - wrote in Thursday's suit, which seeks to block the improvement project.

They also accused the team of using strong-arm tactics by attempting to coerce them into selling their businesses.

"Shortly after the commission announced its . . . decision, the Cubs told the rooftops they could either sell their businesses to the Cubs for a fraction of both cost and fair market value or have their businesses destroyed when the Cubs block their views," the court filing states.

The fact that the owners filed the suit is hardly a surprise, especially after negotiations over Wrigley Field improvements broke down in acrimony.

Last summer, the team had agreed to just two signs in hopes of reaching a deal with rooftop owners. But after negotiations failed, the Cubs decided to add more signs than they initially had indicated.

Previously, the rooftop owners association said the new signs "would absolutely violate our 20-year contract, just as they violate the spirit of Wrigley's long-standing landmark status."

John Holden, a spokesman for the city's law department, declined to comment. A spokesman for the rooftop owners also declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the Cubs.


August 15, 2014 

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