Cubs vs. rooftop owners: The most exciting game in town | Bleader

Cubs vs. rooftop owners: The most exciting game in town



More entertaining than the ball game!
For my money, the ongoing dispute between the Cubs and their rooftop-owning neighbors is far more interesting than last year's Cubs season.

In that season, the Cubs managed to lose 101 out of 162 games—ten more than they lost in 2011. So if losing is the objective, you could say the Cubs are making progress.

In the case of the rooftop dispute, the Rickettses—owners of the team—are going at it tooth and nail with the folks who own the buildings across the street from Wrigley Field.

If only their ballplayers played with as much vim and vigor.

As you probably know, the rooftop owners rent out the rooftops of their buildings (hence the name, rooftop owners) to fans who are so stuck on the Cubs that they're willing to pay big bucks to watch a crummy team play from the roof of a building across the street!

The Cubs want to block the view by erecting digital billboards on Wrigley Field that they can rent to advertisers, thus making even more money to squander on mediocre players. Something they're really good at.

Personally, I'm sort of torn on the issue. On the one hand, I side with the Rickettses on the grounds that 1) the billboards will bring in enough money to get the Cubs to drop their demand for a public handout to rebuild Wrigley, and 2) well, it does seem as though the rooftop owners are sort of horning in on something that's not really theirs to horn in on.

On the other hand, the Cubs did indeed sign a contract giving the rooftop owners the right to horn in on the action, so to speak. And this being America—a contract is a contract! Unless, of course, you're a retired firefighter, teacher, and/or cop on a pension. Then it's not a contract.

If the Cubs put up those billboards, it will effectively put the rooftop owners out of business. Or as one rooftop owner put it: "I don't think you would spend $5 to go sit up on a rooftop to look at the back of a billboard."

He makes a compelling point—though, now that I think about it, looking at the back of a billboard may be more entertaining than watching the Cubs play baseball.

Especially if you're intoxicated, as most Cub fans are by the seventh inning.

All in all, I'd have to say that the rooftop owners have fared much better than the peanut vendors, who you have to be sort of old to remember.

They were the mostly poor black west- and south-siders who lined up along Monroe and Madison before Bulls and Blackhawks games, selling bags of peanuts in the good old days when the Chicago Stadium was still around.

But when the Bulls and Blackhawks tore down the Stadium and replaced it with the United Center in the 1990s, they got the city to pass an ordinance banning peanut vendors from within 1,000 feet of the new arena.

Think about that, people . . .

The Bulls and Blackhawks got the city to essentially put the vendors out of business, thus making it more likely for hungry fans to buy the food inside the United Center. Meaning more money for the Bulls and the Blackhawks.

That, my friends, is the sort of clout the Rickettses can only envy.

The city justified giving the Bulls and Blackhawks a big property tax break on the grounds that a new arena would stimulate economic development in a poor west-side community. Then they promptly put a bunch of poor, black people out of business.

Which is not unlike the city's TIF program to stimulate development in poor, blighted communities in which they take money from the schools and spend it on neighborhoods that are neither poor nor blighted.

As I may have mentioned a few hundred times.

There's a larger lesson in all of this. It's never advantageous to be poor—especially in Chicago.