[Zell,  seen here seated next to organ grinder, holding tin cup.]

As I argued here the other day, Sam Zell’s booking Elton John and Billy Joel in Wrigley this summer means he’s playing hardball until local rooftop owners pay him his money.  While no MSM news service makes the connection, I have no problem pointing out the following timeline:  1) Zell announces the Rocketman v. Pianoman show this summer at Wrigley.  Today, The Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports that Wrigleyville neighbors with rooftop views of the field refuse to pay Sam Zell.  The stated pretense of this dispute is that the Jumbotron put up for the Blackhawks-Redwing game this winter blocked half the view of Mr. Anthony Racky’s Lakeview Baseball Club at 3633 N. Sheffield.  I think we can safely read between the lines here:  pay the money, or Sir Elton and The Stranger play.  As far as the public debate goes, Mr. Racky has the moral high ground “ he deserves some money from the Cubs to refund to his club members.  Tactically, however, he’s at a disadvantage if he really thinks the Cubs won’t do something because “it only makes them look stupid.”

Fran Spielman reports it thus:

Anthony Racky, owner of the Lakeview Baseball Club, 3633 N. Sheffield, is withholding 2008 profit-sharing payments from the Cubs to protest a Jumbotron that Racky says blocked half his view during the NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic.

The Lake View Baseball Club sold out for the game between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. But club attorney Paul Bach said fans who had trouble seeing the rink would be given a future discount or “freebie,” and Racky wants the Cubs to pay for it. He also wants the Cubs to promise there won’t be any future obstructions.

Until those things happen, Bach said, the 2008 payment would be withheld.

“If they want us to live up to the agreement, we want them to live up to their side,” Bach said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the fact that we paid for an unobstructed view.”

Profit-sharing payments for 2008 were due Dec. 31. Asked why Racky was the only one of 17 rooftop club owners to withhold payment, Bach said, “We have a history of standing up to the Cubs. If this rooftop hadn’t stood up to the Cubs 20 years ago, there wouldn’t be any rooftops.”

Mike Lufrano, vice president of community relations for the Cubs, responded: “It’s unfortunate that we continue to have issues like this. We hope to be able to resolve it by working with the rooftop owner.”

Other sources said the Cubs would have no choice but to put up decorative banners or some other form of obstruction to block Racky’s mid-block view if he hasn’t paid up by opening day.

Bach countered, “They’ve been threatening to do that for 20 years. They can’t because it would violate all the other agreements. And it only makes them look stupid.”