A View to be Killed: How New Wrigley Signs Impact Rooftop Sightlines

It’s no secret that I’m in the Cubs’ corner when it comes to their fight with their neighbors

In fact, I have the same opinion of the ongoing suit, particularly the most recent motion filed, as Bill Clinton had of Murder at 1600. For those of you not versed in 90’s SNL, this is to say that I find it to be a steaming pile of pony loaf.

That said, it’s not as if these business owners don’t have a reason to at least gripe a little. Their businesses are, after all, based on the fact that they can be Peeping Toms on the girl next door. It began as a novelty; people had lawnchairs and coolers of beer up on the bare rooftops of their buildings. We all saw that on WGN and thought, “wow, what a cool way to spend an afternoon.”

But this talk of obscured views is really ludicrous, as the rooftop concept was never about being able to see the game. It was a carefree pastime that was quickly turned into an enterprise by some smart businesspeople. They packaged and sold the concept of the rooftop experience.

And given the proliferation of viewing decks, flat-screen TVs, and air conditioned lounges, the actual view has become even less important than in those halcyon days of yore. The Cubs’ erection of signs won’t hurt those places nearly as much as the team sucking for another few years would. But again, squeaky wheels and grease.

So how exactly will the planned construction impact these views and, at least by proxy, the mystique that goes along with it? That’s exactly what Jonathon Berlin and Rick Tuma at the Chicago Tribune sought to answer.

The enterprising pair “reviewed detailed architectural plans filed by the Cubs, hundreds of photos and Google Earth to plot where the rooftop buildings sit in relation to the proposed signs and estimate which buildings may be most affected by the team’s plans.”

Their results can be viewed below, though due to the intricacy of the images Berlin and Tuma put together, I was only able to embed static versions. Check out their original piece for a color-coded map and interactive pictures.

Left field absent construction.
Unobstructed view of left field rooftops.


And now with Wrigley, new light stadard, and signage.
And now with Wrigley, new light stadard, and signage.


wrigley-right-signs (1)
And with additional sign and video board.


Unobstructed view of right field.
Unobstructed view of right field rooftops.


Now with Wrigley and new sign and light standard.
Now with Wrigley and new sign and light standard.


With new additional sign and video board.
With new additional sign and video board.


A panoramic view of the entire outfield. See original Chicago Tribune piece for color key.


While you’ll need to review the Trib article for a full breakdown of the color key, it’s interesting to note that the three properties purchased by the Ricketts family (shown in maroon) appear to be least obstructed by the new signs. Of course, that makes sense on more than one level.

It should come as no surprise that the owners leading the charge in the lawsuit are those responsible for the buildings identified by the light blue dots in right, those now stuck behind a video board. But not everyone appears to be so unfortunate.

And you may notice that while the building sandwiched between those two has no seating, it is home to the giant Miller Lite sign known for clever phrasing. I’ve got to imagine the Budweiser folks are pretty happy about that view being obscured, particularly when it comes to TV coverage.

While this visual doesn’t sway me, I do find it very interesting. I don’t lament the passage of time or the inexorable and insidious commercialization of the game and park I love, though there is something a bit hollow in all of this. But if becoming less organic is what it takes to bring a title to the North Side, I’m all for it.

Still, I’d love to be able to travel back in time to spend at least one sun-soaked summer afternoon up there on one of those undeveloped rooftops with Harry and Stoney describing the game as I sip Old Style and love life.

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