wrigley westYesterday, the Chicago Cubs revealed that VP of Marketing and Sales Wally Hayward would be leaving the organization in favor of a newly-formed marketing firm (“W Partners”), which is backed in part by the Ricketts Family. The firm’s first client will be the Chicago Cubs, so the relationship will continue.

“We are excited to begin this new venture with Wally, who has played a key role in developing great corporate sponsorships for the Cubs – our largest revenue growth area over the last three years,” Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement, per the Tribune. “We have big plans for Wrigley Field and in the neighborhood and that’s why we wanted to establish W Partners to allow Wally and Samantha [Coghill] to focus on growing and enhancing our relationships with corporate partners and to eventually do the same for other clients.”

Hayward also expressed excitement about the shift.

“Our first job will be to work with the Cubs on the restoration of Wrigley Field, the boutique hotel partnership across the street with Starwood, and the plaza development and [new] Spring Training [facility],” Hayward said, per ESPN. “We are excited to have the Cubs as our first client. We will be a dedicated sales and marketing company working with our clients to help best represent their brand and future goals ….

“I loved working [with the Cubs], and it has been a thrill to associate with the great fan base and fantastic co-workers during my three plus years here. We definitely have the best owners in all of sports. They are committed to winning a World Series and committed to saving Wrigley Field for the next generations of fans. They are committed to being a great community partner. My people and I want to continue to be a part of it and that is why the Cubs are one of our first clients.”

All sounds nice and flowery, right?

Well, the behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt is that Hayward was clashing with the man who originally brought him into the organization, his boss, Business President Crane Kenney. Indeed, Hayward may have, at times, been going over Kenney’s head directly to Tom Ricketts, according to Jon Greenberg.

The impact to the Cubs here should be negligible, as all of the same minds are ultimately still involved in their respective areas of expertise. For now, it sounds like Hayward’s internal responsibilities will be filled by VP of Ticket Sales Colin Faulkner and Senior Marketing Director Alison Miller.

One interest tidbit to emerge from the shakeup: one of the things W Partners will be working on? Securing naming rights for the Cubs’ new Spring Training park and facility.

Good thing? Bad thing? Does it bother you? It’s pretty commonplace at this point, so it doesn’t bother me. And, no, I don’t see it as a precursor to anything involving Wrigley Field.

  • ETS

    not related but do we know how far along construction is on the domican facility? I lost track of that a while ago.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s supposed to be done later this year, according to Crane at the Convention. Maybe even mid-Summer.

      • ETS

        thanks. I would love to see pictures of what was going on down there. I suppose Google earthing it is a pipe dream…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Hmm – I like where your head’s at, though.

  • ETS

    It’s interesting that he was going over Kenney’s head (supposedly) to Ricketts directly and the solution was Ricketts funding him forming a new firm and giving that firm control of the marketing (which I assume means they are circumventing kenney?). This all seems like Kenney might not be a happy camper right now.

    That’s all pretty speculative, of course.

  • Jim

    Idea for the new Spring Training facility name: Ernie Banks Ballpark. But I guess it will be some product name – marketing … so it will probably be something like CenturyLink Field

  • JulioZuleta

    Probably a little bit of an uncomfortable time for Kenney. Seems like the clock has been ticking on him for a while.

  • Jason

    Why is Crane Kenny still there again?

    • Boogens

      Not trolling or looking for a fight but why does anyone really care if Crane Kenney is part of the business organization or not? Any involvement that he may have had with the baseball operations side of the business has been clearly discontinued since Theo assumed his role. From a business perspective it looks like the Spring Training facility is progressing nicely, the Dominican facility is progressing nicely, and we’ve made some important inroads recently concerning the renovation of Wrigley. I don’t know how much Kenney has been involved (or not) but I really don’t care. The baseball operations side is improving and the business operations is improving. Ricketts appears to be running a strong organization. Why should any of us be fixated on Kenney?

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      Because despite the local media’s attempts to bury him, he’s pretty good at his job.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It only seems logical to assume that he must be.

      • Boogens

        Agreed, he must be and I’m not arguing that — it’s not my point at all. My point was as long as the business and baseball operations are operating well and independantly, why do we care who is running the show on the business side?

  • BluBlud

    Wow. Ok. So when your employee is going over your head to your boss and is then “punished” by your boss with help to start his own business in which your boss decides to be his first client, It means that your time is probably close to an end. If one of my guys did this, and my boss rewarded him with a promotion to my equal or higher, I would probably go ahead and start making contacts with other prospective employees.

  • CUBZ99

    So Hayward is going to be doing basically the same job somebody within the organization was responsible for prior to starting his own business? Hate to be a cynic, but if this other company procures the advertisers rather than the Cubs directly, they would get a pretty healthy cut right? And if the Ricketts own the new business, it is money going directly to their pockets and not to the Cubs organization (payroll or baseball operations).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They’d get a fee, yes – but the Cubs no longer incur the costs associated with landing those partners, nor the overhead of having the employees. Net? Eh, probably better for the Ricketts Family than the Cubs, but only slightly (if at all).

      Interesting analytical thinking, though. Good on you.

      • itzscott

        Essentially the Cubs have outsourced their marketing function to a separate company which the Ricketts’ own and likely now has no financial integration with the Cubs organization.

        Basically it looks like a business decision where marketing department overhead (salaries, etc) comes off the books, slightly improving the numbers used to secure financing in order to get better terms from a lender/underwriter….. which is exactly what Ricketts should do now that he intends to foot the bill for the entire renovation.

        • NLIADad

          Don’t really understand the details, but wouldn’t this might affect revenue sharing that the cubs would have to provide. If the marketing income stays external to the Cubs, then less might be owed to the Twins, Royals, etc.

          • Pat

            The Cubs would still get the marketing money. The idea is that the new company will be able to charge them for procuring the contracts, and possibly institute a sort of finder’s fee – essentially skimming some money off before it gets to the team.

      • Pat

        Not a big deal but worth keeping an eye on. Both the rooptop partnership and the hotel partnership were also both entered into by the Ricketts family and not the Cubs. No big deal as those are outside businesses. It will be interesting to see if they start outsourcing other revenue generation that currently is tied to the team to ricketts family businesses.

    • JulioZuleta

      I guess I just don’t see much of a difference between money going to the Ricketts, as opposed to going to the Cubs directly. Even if the money went to the organization, that doesn’t mean that the Ricketts wouldn’t simply pocket it and vice versa, if the money goes straight to them, what’s to say they won’t put it back into the team? Owners have long used second businesses to subsidize their team. Reinsdorf has been using profit from the Bulls to subsidize the White Sox for years, which really pisses me off as a Bulls fan. He uses the loyalty of Bulls fans to make up for the pathetic attendance at Sox games, pushing the Sox payroll higher than it can support on its own, while refusing to pay very much luxury tax on the Bulls (and yes, he has actually admitted this on the record).

      • Cubz99

        I think the distinction is that, that the Ricketts have been on record many times stating that all of the additional revenue will be put into the ballclub, meaning potentially higher payrolls, more employees, etc.

        I suppose the difference would be that if the new revenue was filtered through the new advertising company, less of the money would make it to the Cubs and therefore they could still keep their promise and by spending all of the “Cub” revenue.

        Overall, I think Brett is right, even if that was their intention, it is probably not that big of a deal.

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        Reinsdorf does not use bulls monies to subsidize white sox baseball. Both owner ships are set up as a general partnership with limited partners as the chief ownership vehicle. They are completely separate and legally there can not be any co-mingling of funds.

        You’re statement is ridiculous and laughable.

        • DarthHater

          Nobody ever suggested that the books are mingled. They suggested that he runs the Bulls to make a profit for himself. Once the profits are his, nothing prevents him from investing his money in his baseball team.

          • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

            If you knew how a limited partnership is set up you would know that reinsdorf, as the general partner, has very little of his own money in the teams. The limited partners are the majority investors in each teams. He earns his money from a management fee and the big payday will come when the team is sold.

            The two teams are run completely apart and believe me, reinsdorf does not shuffle money out of his account and put it in the sox. If the sox needed money he would reach out to his limited partners for a cash call which he has never done. The team is very profitable due to MLB revenue sharing and also they have. Sweet deal where if they don’t reach a certain level of attendance that they don’t pay rent on their park. He’s guaranteed a profit every year . So if you can follow that why would he ever need to bring any of his personal wealth over to help run the sox? And. The other poster did say that reinsdorf co mingled the monies which you said as well.


  • terencem

    Does anyone else feel like you can speculate about what the baseball operations side does, that’s fair game, but it’s kind of silly to wildly speculate on the non-baseball side of the business so long as it appears that it’s not a cluster-f**k?

    • Crazyhorse

      Both sides seem to be suffering from Cluster Droppings .

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  • FastBall

    It makes sense to spin off that peice of the business operation. It makes great sense for Ricketts if he owns it. The Cubs won’t be the only client just the first client. So this could grow into something much more than just a Cubs spin off. It’s not part of the Chicago Cubs core business of baseball operations. If I was Ricketts I would start my own Construction, Engineering and Architectural Firm as well. He has a lot of projects going on and a bunch of new ones he is starting.

  • Bea Arthur’s husband

    The business is very important. Does Theo have a place at the table on the business side? Of course. Will be out selling suites and signage? No.

    Crane is someone I find utterly fascinating. Wally was doing well (like mcDonough before him) and it is good is close at hand. He is still in the Cuns family.

    Crane also is an interesting whipping boy for the media. Is it all deserved? No. Is a good portion? Probably.

    The stories are legion and most date back to his days when the Trib ran the team. Some club Presidents (John McDonough) let baseball guys do their jobs. Others did not. Crane was one of those who got involved. There others people forget over the many years. Anyway, Crane’s biggest issue was taking credit where he had none. Boneheaded ideas: the priests. One story from sports radio claims he owns and wears his own uniform. Another that wealthy ticket holders/clients took batting and fielding practice. I have no idea what is true, but couple that with Cubs losing and he was a fair target. What drove people crazy most was bragging.

    I get why Ricketts kept him around and still do. He was involved to an extent with the back channel talks withe mayor. We see him out front with the rooftops (where he will actually be a good choice to those of us who don’t want the rooftops to get in the way). He has truly done business stuff for the team.

    A couple of things I am certain of:

    1. He is not hurting the team very much of at all. He also helped a lot in Arizona, the DR, and broadcast ideas going forward (a cubs network).
    2. Theo is completely in control of baseball and plays a big role in business and crane will not dare get in his way. Crane will claim a role in his hiring though. He also claims to have wanted to hire him earlier but wasn’t allowed to by the Trib. Silly.
    3. He did get involved during the Trib years with baseball operations and that was where the media was right to protest. Ricketts is no idiot and knows this.
    4. If you ever meet him, he is actually a decent sort. Arrogant? Yes. But a real trip to listen to. A good family guy. I have met him several times. The stories range from a bit scary (Crane the scout) to hopeful (revenue ideas) to downright silly.

    I base this last part on my good fortune of talking to him and in no way is this definitive. Simply my impressions.

    Right before Hendry got canned, I had a moment with Tom Ricketts. I asked why the Cubs didn’t have a baseball guy in crane’s job. The model of say, Pat Gillick, and a younger GM was in vogue. Ricketts, tired of the question I’m sure, said basically “I don’t need a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy.” He secretly fired Jimbo soon after. My point?

    Crane may jabber, but Ricketts is in control and doing a great job of managing people.

    I apologize if I in anyway sound like a bragger myself. Please excuse my typos. Go Kane county cougars!

  • cubzforlife

    I’ve met 4 minority owners of the Sox over the years and one is a Cubs fan. I keep a miniature Wrigley on my desk (car dealership) and of course it sparked baseball conversation. Nice guy, retired,said he has 5%.

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