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Right Field Rooftops, LLC v. Chicago Baseball Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 19, 2015

RIGHT FIELD ROOFTOPS, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CHICAGO BASEBALL HOLDINGS, LLC, et al., Defendants

Page 830

For Right Field Rooftops, LLC, doing business as Skybox on Sheffield, Right Field Properties, LLC, 3633 Rooftop Management, LLC, doing business as Lakeview Baseball Club, Rooftop Acquisition, LLC, Plaintiffs: Abraham Brustein, DiMonte & Lizak, Park Ridge, IL; Thomas M Lombardo, DiMonte & Lizak, LLC, Park Ridge, IL.

For Chicago Cubs Baseball Club, LLC, Wrigley Field Holdings, LLC, Chicago Baseball Holdings, LLC, Thomas S. Ricketts, Defendants: Andrew A. Kassof, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daniel E. Laytin, Diana M. Watral, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Chicago, IL.

Page 831

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Virginia M. Kendall, United States District Court Judge.

Sixteen buildings across from Wrigley Field maintain views into Wrigley Field from seating erected on their rooftops. The Plaintiffs (the " Rooftops" ) operate two of these buildings and sell tickets to view Chicago Cubs games and other events from the Rooftops. In 2004, the Cubs and the Rooftops entered into a contract granting the Rooftops a license to sell these tickets in exchange for seventeen percent of the Rooftops' gross revenues. (Dkt. No. 21-3, Ex. C-2-A, Rooftop Licensing Agmt. § 3.1a). The Agreement expires December 31, 2023. ( Id. at § 4.1). Despite the Agreement, the Rooftops allege that current Cubs ownership has threatened to and is in the process of erecting video boards and billboards in an effort to obstruct the Rooftops' views into Wrigley Field. The Rooftops contend that the Cubs' conduct both breaches the existing Agreement and violates the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, et seq., and seek a Temporary Restraining Order (" TRO" ) enjoining the Cubs from installing the video boards and any other signage before the Court holds a preliminary injunction hearing.

A TRO is " an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted

Page 832

unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." See Goodman v. Ill. Dep't of Fin. & Prof'l Regulation, 430 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972, 117 S.Ct. 1865, 138 L.Ed.2d 162 (1997)). Moreover, the Rooftops must demonstrate that they will suffer irreparable harm between now and a preliminary injunction hearing. See Chicago United Indus., Ltd. v. City of Chicago, 445 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2006) (" common formula" is that TROs are intended to preserve the status quo only for so long as is needed to hold a hearing). The Rooftops have not satisfied this burden of demonstrating an immediate harm. As the Court stated, the preliminary injunction hearing will be expedited and resolved well before the baseball season begins. The Court will rule on the Rooftops' request for a preliminary injunction once it receives the full presentation of facts and law. Primarily because the Rooftops have failed to demonstrate that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a TRO and because an adequate remedy at law exists, the Court denies the Rooftops' motion. The other factors of the TRO are discussed below.

BACKGROUND

The Plaintiffs in this case are four affiliated entities that own and operate the Rooftops. The Rooftops allege that from 2009 to the present day, the Cubs have attempted to either acquire the Rooftops or destroy their businesses by blocking their views with video boards and billboards, notwithstanding the twenty-year Agreement entered into in 2004 guaranteeing the Rooftops unobstructed views into Wrigley Field.

The Agreement was the resolution of a lawsuit the Cubs filed against the Rooftops after the 2002 baseball season, claiming that the Rooftops were misappropriating the Cubs' property by charging admission fees to watch Cubs games from the Rooftops. The Agreement contains a number of provisions discussing the expansion of Wrigley Field, its potential effect on the Rooftops, and consequences:

6. Wrigley Field bleacher expansion.

6.1 If the Cubs expand the Wrigley Field bleacher seating and such expansion so impairs the view from any Rooftop into Wrigley Field such that the Rooftop's business is no longer viable unless it increases the height of its available seating, then such Rooftop may in its discretion elect to undertake construction to raise the height of its seating to allow views into Wrigley Field and the Cubs shall reimburse the Rooftop for 17% of the actual cost of such construction.
6.2 If the Cubs expand the Wrigley Field bleacher seating and such expansion so impairs the View from any Rooftop into Wrigley Field such that the Rooftop's business is no longer viable even if it were to increase its available seating to the maximum height permitted by law, and if such bleacher expansion is completed within eight years from the Effective Date, then if such Rooftop elects to cease operations . ...

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