Being a good neighbor is important for mutual business success

If you own a business or even a house, you no doubt understand that what your neighbors do often has an effect on you and your success. For instance, many restaurants and retail stores try to buy property in areas with a lot of foot traffic, such as a downtown business district or near a sports stadium. They know that home games and other large events bring customers into the area.

So if you have a business model that is largely dependent on the success of one of your neighboring businesses, what happens when that other business makes a change that is detrimental to yours? A recent incident reported in the Idaho State Journal is a good example. Although the story isn't local, it is a problem that many Idaho business face in some form.

In Chicago, the owners of Wrigley Field are currently embroiled in an apparent contract dispute with businesses surrounding the stadium. These businesses have rooftops that allow customers to watch Cubs games live without having to pay to get into the stadium. The Cubs organization wants to build a giant video board in the stadium, which would block the advantageous rooftop views. Business owners say the move would essentially put them out of business.

If these local businesses were trying to get something for nothing, they likely wouldn't have a case. But since 2004, the Cubs organization has had a revenue-sharing agreement with these businesses. It's unclear what the specifics of the agreement are, but it seems safe to assume that the Cubs are bringing in excess revenue from fans watching on rooftops outside the stadium.

In defending their decision, team owners have said that the 2004 deal does not prohibit them from erecting signage that would block views from neighboring rooftops. Local business owners disagree, and are working to halt construction in the stadium until legal issues are sorted out.

Being a good neighbor is perhaps even more important in a commercial area than it is in a residential one. If the decisions of a neighboring business violate previous agreements or otherwise threaten your revenue, you may have legal options. Please discuss your case with an experienced business and commercial law attorney.

Source: The Idaho State Journal, "Wrigley rooftop owner: 'We're dead,' if Cubs erect huge sign," March 23, 2015

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