In Chicago, taking in a Cubs game from a Wrigleyville rooftop is a tradition nearly as sacred as the wretchedness of the baseball at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs' owner, the Tribune Co., is talking about changing that this year—not by upgrading the roster but by extending Wrigley's bleachers by 12 rows, thereby threatening the views from the rooftops of 14 apartment buildings on Sheffield and Waveland avenues.
At stake is a lucrative business that has sprouted over the last several years. Jim Murphy, president of the Wrigley Field Rooftop Association and owner of 3649 Sheffield Avenue, says he rents his rooftop to groups and corporations for as much as $4,200 a game. Grain's Chicago Business estimates that the rooftops generate $7.5 million in revenue a year, none of which goes to the Cubs. "The demand is there," Murphy says. "We're an extension of the bleachers, actually." While confident he can reach an amicable agreement with the Cubs, Murphy rejects the notion that the rooftop owners have been stealing from the club. "We add something to the park as far as historical value," says Murphy. "We've contributed to Wrigley's success. I see nothing wrong in benefiting from our contribution."