Showing Some Restraint: Does New Chapter in Never-Ending Story of Wrigley Rooftops Have Merit?

Something smells good in Stinkville.

Or, more appropriately, in Wrigleyville. Big offseason moves and serious progress on bleacher reconstruction have pumped gallons of Febreeze over a franchise that’s been bringing the funk like your grandpa’s feet for the past few years. On the whole, things have really been moving in the right direction.

But just as it seemed the Cubs were going to be home free, we received further proof that displaced rats aren’t the only nuisance in the neighborhood. That’s because owners of two rooftops filed a motion in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the Cubs from moving forward with plans to install new video boards and signage.

This is like The Neverending Story, only without Atreu and his flying dog-dragon. Oh, and that giant rock-creature that rides a mammoth stone tricycle. Ah, but we do still have to deal with The Nothing that threatens to engulf Wrigley, or at least plans to renovate her.

Danny Ecker of Crain’s reported Thursday that lawyer Tom Lombardo filed the motion on behalf of a group led by Ed McCarthy and also including Mark Schlenker and Marc Hamid. These folks own the buildings at 3627 and 3633 N. Sheffield (Skybox on Sheffield and Lakeview Baseball Club) and have been fighting the Cubs for a while on this issue.

The TRO would be a bridge to a court decision on whether or not to issue an injunction that would stop construction until the lawsuit is eventually resolved. The Cubs have already had some much-publicized problems with construction, having announced last month that the bleachers wouldn’t be ready for the first month of the season.

Already four months into the massive project, a restraining order and/or injunction would essentially give the Cubs a really bad case of erectile dysfunction. The good news is the team has vowed to vehemently fight this lawsuit and its ensuing motions, and the Ricketts family has deeper pockets than their neighbors.

Oh, shut up and get me the cat’s ass!

Wow, okay, no need to get testy. I know a lot of us like to pretend to be lawyers when these situations come up, pontificating with pretend jurisprudence on the merits of the various ploys by the parties involved in these matters. But, given my feeling on steaks and butchers, I felt it more wise to seek counsel from an actual counselor.

To that end, I reached out to an attorney, who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity. Specifically, I wanted to learn more about the pursuit of a TRO and the likelihood that the roofers could secure one.

“As a general proposition,” my contact told me, “getting a temporary injunction is difficult. The plaintiff must prove there is ‘irreparable harm,’ meaning there will be damage that cannot be repaired or compensated if the court does not immediately stop whatever is going on.”

“They also must show that they have a likelihood of success ‘on the merits,’ which means when the case is decided.” And what’s more, “[the rooftop owners] must show granting the injunction is ‘in the public interest.’ That is a pretty vague standard but it usually means there is a general public interest in stopping whatever is going on.”

While this particular lawyer did not care to get into specifics as to the exact claims in this lawsuit, it appears clear to me that there is little chance the roofers can “win” in terms of the TRO. I can’t see any possibility for irreparable harm from the continued construction at Wrigley at this point.

Furthermore, I can’t see a judge looking into the future and determining that the antagonists (though that is a malleable term depending on whose side you’re taking) here can lay claim to success “on the merits.”

The final nail in the coffin would appear to be the concept of public interest, which does not appear to be in any danger from the bleachers, signs, or video boards. If anything, it would be in the public’s best interest, as hastening construction may send the hordes of rodents back underground.

I have long questioned the rooftops’ motives in this whole process, just as I’ve been very vocal in my support of the Ricketts family and the Cubs in moving forward with their plans for Wrigley. And while I question the efficacy of this most recent ploy, I do know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

At this point, I think it’d be in everyone’s best interest for the Cubs to simply bust out a big bottle of WD-40 and eliminate the offending noise. Based on what I can deduce from what I’ve been told, the roofers’ strategy isn’t likely to work. They’re also unlikely to go down without a fight.

My hope is that the Cubs see fit to write an afterword and then swiftly close the book on this matter so we can all simply move on.

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