Double Play

Rooftop bleacher owner convicted in Wrigley Field case

(Courtesy Ian Usher/Flickr)

A former owner of a company that ran bleachers overlooking the Wrigley Field baseball stadium, home of the Chicago Cubs, has been convicted on charges of mail fraud and illegal bank structuring. The charges against R. Marc Hamid included under-reporting $1.5 million in profits and falsely reporting attendance as per city ordinance.

Hamid and his business Skybox on Sheffield provided rooftop seating outside of Wrigley Field looking over the right field bleachers. The company had been at war with the Cubs: the team announced the building of a large screen that would, and has, blocked the view from the rooftop. Hamid was in the middle of a lawsuit against the field when he was indicted.

By not reporting $1.5 million in profit, Hamid avoided paying the Cubs $600,000 in fees stipulated by a contract allowing the rooftop to sell tickets to look into the stadium. The $1.5 million was also not submitted in sales taxes returns to State of Illinois. City Ordinances also limited the capacity of the bleachers to 200, which was regularly exceeded. Hamid faces up to 20 years in prison.

(Towpilot/Wikimedia Commons)

Wrigley Field is surrounding by residential neighborhoods. The buildings surrounding the outfield have built up bleachers to peer over the outfield. (Towpilot/Wikimedia Commons)

The bleachers—owned by Hamid—were built on the roof of three story residential buildings adjacent to the stadium. The area surrounding Wrigley Field is predominantly low-density residential. The stadium has been at the center of multiple disputes and debates over its development in recent years. The Stadium is in the process of major renovations, while a 175-room hotel is being constructed across the street. In response to major changes to the plaza in front of the stadium, the City of Chicago just passed an ordinance restricting the plaza’s use. As one of the oldest urban stadiums, Wrigley, along with its surrounding neighborhood, have had to change with each other. Those changes have not always been without certain growing pains.

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