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Monday, December 16
Cubs president MacPhail: The free ride is over

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs filed a lawsuit Monday against the owners of rooftop bars that overlook Wrigley Field, saying the establishments unfairly profit from the team's product.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago against nine defendants who sell tickets to watch Cubs games live or on television. The Cubs argue that the rooftop operators violate copyright laws and directly compete with the club for ticket sales.

Cubs president and CEO Andy MacPhail said it's unfair for the operators to make millions of dollars a year without giving something back to the team.

"They do nothing to contribute to our efforts to put a winning team on the field,'' MacPhail said in a statement Monday. "The free ride is over.''

Ken Jakubowski, a consultant for the rooftop owners, told WGN-TV on Monday that the owners are disappointed with the Tribune Company's decision to take legal action. The Tribune Company owns the Chicago Cubs and WGN-TV.

It sets us back significantly in our efforts to solve this privately,'' Jakubowski said.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, some of the defendant's profits and a ban on the owners selling or marketing the Cubs without the team's permission.

The Cubs have been arguing with the rooftop owners over plans to expand the stadium, which currently seats 39,059. MacPhail in September said the organization wouldn't cooperate with the owners on the expansion plans unless they bought licenses to view games.

Jakubowski said at the time that agreeing to licensing would mean admitting they had been stealing the Cubs' product. And he said the Cubs' goal would be to have as much control over the operators as possible.

The owners offered to pay the Cubs a $14 fee per ticket. But they insisted on calling it a fee for "marketing'' the rooftops on Cubs broadcasts and not a license to watch games.

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