MLB’s Cubs win out in Wrigley Field video board case

Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Chicago Cubs has emerged victorious in a legal battle over the installation of a new video board at its Wrigley Field home ballpark.

Owners of buildings adjacent to the venue had moved to sue the team, arguing that the giant video board obscured their rooftop views onto the field of play inside the stadium.

However, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled by a 3-0 vote that a 2004 agreement, under which the building owners gave the team 17 per cent of their revenue in exchange for views onto Wrigley Field, left open the possibility for the construction of a video board.

Circuit Judge William Bauer said the Cubs’ alleged monopolistic behaviour, such as threatening to block views from buildings that owners refused to sell, is part of the “business of baseball”, subject to the MLB’s antitrust exemption.

The decision will serve as a huge victory for the Ricketts family, which purchased the team in 2009. The family also bought a number of rooftop businesses near to Wrigley Field and carried out major renovation at the ballpark.

However, James Figliulo, a lawyer for building owners, has hit out at the ruling and, according to the Reuters news agency, said his clients could ask the appeals court to reconsider the decision.

Figliulo said his clients’ buildings have about 400 seats, with half of these now “mostly obstructed” and the other half “partially obstructed by the new board”.

“The opinion is clearly wrong in finding that the Ricketts’ efforts to monopolise the rooftop business were covered by the business of baseball exemption,” he said.

“It is not the business of baseball, it is the business of rooftops.”

Image: Jason Hernandez