From the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Higgins (link courtesy J Strell)

A tavern near U.S. Cellular Field that has been a landmark gathering spot for White Sox fans for more than 22 years must close by the end of the month, a Cook County judge ruled Monday.
The owner of Jimbo’s Lounge had hoped to win the right to stay open until the end of the current baseball season. But a judge sided with the tavern’s landlords, who filed suit last year to evict their longtime tenants.

“It’s going to be devastating,” said owner Joseph “Jimbo” Levato. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. . . . After almost 23 years, I think we deserve better than that. If we could finish the season out, at least we could go out with dignity and pride.”

Levato said he had hoped to at least get his case before a jury. But now he faces the prospect of disassembling the bar even as his customers come and go during the final week in April.

“We have people who’ve been coming there 15, 16 years,” Levato said. “A lot of these people have their pictures up. . . . That’s just downright cold.”

Levato and his wife, Joyce, had argued in court that landlord Raymond Degrazia had made a verbal promise in May 2006 that he would renew their lease for the 2007 season.

But Degrazia disputed that and argued that under state law, any such agreement would have to be in writing.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Sheldon Garber agreed with Degrazia, granting his request to take possession of the property.

Winters said Monday that he believed that Degrazia hoped to get a liquor license and operate a bar in the same location or next door.

Levato said Monday that he had renewed his lease without incident until recently, when the White Sox began winning and the team’s popularity soared.