Chicago’s Wrigleyville Rooftop History
Where the Wrigley Field Rooftop phenomenon began! Since 1914, the nearby rooftops of adjacent residential buildings have been used to view Chicago Cubs baseball games or other major events at historic Wrigley Field. The term “Wrigley Rooftops” has been used primarily by sports crazed Chicagoans for the past several decades to describe the beautiful structures surrounding the ballpark which have become an extension of the baseball and concert experience at Wrigley Field.
The rooftops had long been a unique and primitive way to experience the Chicago Cubs baseball games with informal gatherings of a few lucky fans and neighborhood folks perched atop the buildings lining Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. These fortunate fans would sit on coolers, folding chairs, garden furniture, overturned buckets or blankets to buffer the hot tar of sun scorched roofs just to see a Cubs game. Access was generally granted to guests of building owners and their tenants by climbing through the top floor attic of a residential apartment. For several decades, Cubs broadcasting legend Harry Caray would say “hello” to the familiar Wrigley Field rooftop fanatics during his televised broadcasts on WGN. Thus, getting invited to a rooftop became a coveted prize, like winning a secret Cubs fan lottery.
In the 1980’s the Chicago Cubs experienced a renaissance of sorts and with their revived popularity and renewed interest in the team, some enterprising property owners began constructing more sophisticated seating on these once crude rooftop properties. Some owners began charging “admission” to enjoy the game, which did not bode well with the Cubs organization. For nearly a decade the Cubs management tolerated these entrepreneurial endeavors until several of the rooftop structures became organized, profitable businesses that in their opinion, encroached on their business and “used the Cubs organization’s product for personal and financial gain”.
Discussions between the property owners and the Chicago Cubs continued, and progress towards a balanced relationship with the rooftop neighbors was achieved. In 2004, eleven of the thirteen rooftops settled with the club and agreed to pay 17% of gross revenue in exchange for official endorsement. The Cubs now endorse their “Official Rooftop Partners” on their team page at MLB.com.
Today, Wrigley rooftops have become a unique alternative venue to watch Cubs baseball games and summer concerts. Rooftop venues now feature bleachers, beverage service, specialty food menus, meeting space, and a unique game-day atmosphere without the huge crowds, long lines, crowded restrooms and raucous fans.