on the roof

How Wrigley Field Simply Bought Out Trespassers

Ever since Wrigley Field opened more than a century ago, fairly tall Chicago buildings have stood nearby. If you lived in one of those buildings and climbed up to the roof, you were now above those ivy-covered park walls and could watch the ballgame. You didn't get a particularly good view, but you got a view. 

Wrigley Field's owners didn't really care. A few people on lawn chairs on a dozen buildings didn't add up to much of anything against the stadium's 20,000-seat capacity (and today, the park seats twice as many). So long as it was just the people who lived in those buildings, what did it matter? 

Then the buildings (dubbed the "Wrigley Rooftops") started having guests up to watch games. Lots of guests, who paid to be there. The buildings built their own bleachers, with each roof now seating dozens, as though they really were an extension of the stadium. Clearly, the rooftop owners were taking money from Wrigley Field. Small amounts of money, of potential money, but it was money all the same. 

The field and the rooftops clashed for decades. The Cubs' owner, Thomas S. Ricketts, didn't seem to have any standing to block people from looking down at him, but he did sue the roof people for copyright infringement, for namedropping the stadium in advertising. The roof people then entered into a revenue sharing agreement with him. Now with some legitimacy, they later sued him when he planned renovations to the park, saying the new improvements would block their view of games. 

This was getting ridiculous. So around 2015, the Ricketts family simply started buying those buildings. Today, everyone in Chicago knows that Wrigley Rooftops is one option for watching the game, and whether you buy tickets to the actual stadium or to a roof with its own imitation-ballpark franks, your money goes to the same owners. 

Soon after the Ricketts started effectively merging the rooftops with the stadium this way, the Cubs won the World Series, breaking their famous curse. Coincidence?

For more real estate shenanigans, check out:

Top image: Jblesage/Wiki Commons
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