Any time a professional sports team changes hands, a little bit of trepidation is understandable. Beyond the ownership, what else might change?
With the Chicago Cubs – a team reborn of tradition, rich history, and supported by a fan base that is nearly as well known for its fondness of that tradition and history as it is for its desire to freaking win already – the fears are even more understandable. And in this era of Citi Fields and Petco Parks, fear that Cubs’ fans’ most sacred shrine could change for the worse runs rampant.
But you can (probably) fear not:
Speculation about the possible sale of naming rights to Wrigley Field has spread since the Ricketts family bought the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Company in the fall, but the new owners of the Cubs have not discussed the sale of naming rights to Wrigley Field, according to Wally Hayward, the team’s new chief marketing officer.
Beyond that, Mr. Hayward said in an interview last week, the Ricketts family would not sell the name because they understand the essence of the old-time park.
“We are not going to take the ivy off the walls and replace it with advertising signage,” said Mr. Hayward, who will oversee the Cubs’ business development, including commercial opportunities at Wrigley. “We intend to preserve the Friendly Confines.” NYTimes.com.
Very good to hear (though I would point out the irony that the name being desperately preserved, although a family name, is also the name of what might as well be a corporate sponsor). I don’t think many fans would begrudge the Ricketts family their right to make some money, but it’s good to know they understand the balance.
That said, economic realities could put a damper on things eventually.
The stated intentions of the Ricketts family, though, will be tested against an unrelenting need for major repairs at Wrigley that could run to $400 million or more, according to documents reviewed by the Chicago News Cooperative and interviews with people who saw cost estimates during the Cubs’ two-and-a-half-year auction process. Experts in sports marketing believe the sale of naming rights will prove necessary as a means of financing Wrigley renovations.
Shrug. The team makes a lot of money. I highly doubt that naming rights will ever become truly “necessary.” That said, if naming ever does happen, you can be assured that “Wrigley Field” will remain.
Who’s ready for the KFC Ballpark at Wrigley Field?