MoneyLate last season, we heard that the Chicago Cubs had inked a long-term deal with Anheuser-Busch that would increase Budweiser’s availability in, and visibility around, Wrigley Field. That deal includes the right field sign.

Intermittently since then, there have been reports about the value of that deal, but we’ve reached a critical mass on at least one part: it’s worth $140 million. Jon Greenberg reported that figure back in late September, and Tom Loxas heard it in January. Yesterday, both Bruce Levine and Paul Sullivan reported the deal as worth $140 million, as well.

The rub is that Greenberg and Loxas reported the deal as being spread over 10 years – $14 million per year – while Levine and Sullivan say it’s over 14 years – $10 million per year. That’s not a huge difference, but it’s four million bucks per year – a reliever! – and the ability to renegotiate four years earlier. Incidentally, a 10-year deal would line up with the expiration of the rooftop contract, which may or may not be a coincidence.

For now, I’m going to assume it’s a 14-year deal, given that those are the more recent reports (and they came on the same day). Either way, the deal – which will include additional signage for Budweiser outside the ballpark on the plaza and/or hotel, and which includes beer sponsorship exclusivity – is a significant upgrade over what the Cubs were previously able to bring in for the same space/sponsorship.

We know that the Cubs have indicated that every dollar that comes in the door is put back into the organization in some way, so the deal represents an additional $10 million per year – before revenue-sharing – that the Cubs can use on things and stuff to make the team better.

When it comes to the renovation of Wrigley Field, this is just the tip of the increased-revenue iceberg. And the you throw in the new TV deal(s) when they happen? It remains reasonable to believe that, long-term, money isn’t going to be an issue for the Cubs, even if it is right now.

  • C. Steadman

    hooray beer!

  • Fishin Phil

    AB involvement means that there is Cardinal Voodoo magic in this deal somewhere.

    Sorry, I was channeling my inner Diehard there for a minute.

    • scorecardpaul

      Funny story…
      years ago when AB was being bought out buy some German company I was at Grants Farm with my kids. ( they feed goats, Dad drinks free beer). I was interviewed by the newspaper down there, and the next morning I got a call from my sister who lives in St. Louis. She said “I’m glad I’ve got a different last name than you, because your picture is in the paper, and you just slammed the 2 most important things in St. Louis! There was a big picture of me drinking my free beer, and under the picture all it said was “(my name) doesn’t care what happens to anheuser busch brewery, as long as that stinking baseball team doesn’t get better because of it”!

  • Jon

    ….every dollar that comes in the door is put back into the organization in some way


    • DarthHater


      You’re welcome, Jon. 😛

      • Jon


  • TWC

    “We know that every dollar that comes in the door is put back into the organization in some way…”

    Larf. Trolling the trolls.

    • MightyBear

      “Trolling the trolls.” Isn’t that a new Olympic Sport?

      • DarthHater

        That Russian women’s trolling team is hot!

    • Brett

      I confess. I was. I probably should have phrased that more neutrally.

      • dw8


        Trolling himself!!!!

        • TWC

          He’ll go blind if he keeps that up.

          • Jon


            • DarthHater


  • Kyle

    Why would we want to make the team better? Do you know what that might do to the prospect rankings?

    • Abe Froman

      Come on Kyle, use some of that ‘logic’ your knuckles are always bragging about.

    • nick5253

      You do need money for the huge draft and IFA pools we’ll have finishing last…

  • DarthHater


  • JB88

    So, I’m assuming that if Anheiser is getting beer exclusivity rights that means no more Old Style at games. Is that your understanding, Brett?

    • Brett

      Not necessarily (my understanding is the beer service is still being decided by the concession partner (Levy)). This is an exclusive beer *sponsorship*, which I understand to mean that AB is the exclusive beer partner of the Cubs. As in, they won’t take sponsorship from any other beer, not that they definitely won’t sell any other beer. That said … it’s going to be almost exclusively AB stuff at the park.

      • JB88

        That makes sense. At $10-14MM per year, you’d think that AB would be pushing for exclusivity of sales rights also, but I see the distinction that is being drawn.

      • Diggs

        Pretty sure back at the beginning of this off-season, it was announced that there’d be no more Old Style at Wrigley. I remember people being upset about it.

        • Patrick W.

          From my understanding (from a semi-reliable source) you will still be able to purchase Old Style inside Wrigley Field. At least that’s the way it looks right now headed into this season. The signs advertising Old Style are already gone inside the park, there won’t be any blue “Old Style” trays (though you might just see old trays with Bud Light stickers).

          • Cheese Chad

            Rumor is Old Style is suing the Cubs because……. America and everyone is against the Cubs

            • DarthHater


            • DarthHater

              And Ricketts just announced that no further beer sales will be allowed at Wrigley until the Heileman Co. agrees not to sue the Cubs. 😉

              • Cheese Chad

                Weird Al to parody Johnny Cash. Calling it a “Cub named Sue”

                • DarthHater

                  I’ll tell ya, life ain’t easy for a Cub named Sue. … Or any other Cub, for that matter.

                  • hansman

                    He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
                    And I know you hate me, and you got the right
                    To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
                    But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
                    For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
                    Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you “Clark.'”

    • Argonzo

      My friend is a vendor and he said Old Style will still be at two stands on the concourse. Vendors will have Bud, and Goose Island Ale and 312.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    Let’s hope for 10x$14. That’s a pretty decent pitcher right there. Possibly another #3

    • CubFan Paul

      They don’t spend extra revenues on players these days.

      Extra, as in, all of the revenue increases since Ricketts bought the team.

      Troll out.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Yeah you’re probably right. Payroll will stay around $80 mil. dollars plus inflationary adjustments ad infinitum and Ricketts will continue to make enormous profits through a shrewd combination of shrinking attendance over the next few decades and spending millions of extra dollars developing players for other teams.

        • CubFan Paul

          Assume much?

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            Not much. I do assume other people’s posts are meaningful, not merely free-spirited negativity. And assuming your post is meaningful, I took it to be your measured opinion that Ricketts isn’t much interested in investing new revenues in the team.

            • CubFan Paul

              “I do assume other people’s posts are meaningful”

              B.S., Jon & Darth live here.

              “not merely free-spirited negativity”

              Raise your sarcasm meter to a higher setting, the 1st part was clearly a joke and the 2nd part was an explanation

              But since you like to swipes at me, what else is new.

              • CubSTH60625

                But I would argue that “I took it to be your measured opinion that Ricketts isn’t much interested in investing new revenues in the team.” isn’t a swipe, but rather a pretty good analysis of your post above.

              • ClevelandCubsFan

                No need to raise the sarcasm meters; read it, understood it, and I appreciate well-placed sarcasm. Good sarcasm nonetheless drives home a good point. I guess I’ve no idea what your point is, then. Are you suggesting your post WAS basically meaningless?

                If you were (as I took it) sarcastically suggesting that Ricketts is mainly interested in pocketing extra revenues (or otherwise not spending them on the team), I think that’s a relatively silly suggestion–regardless of what you think he’s done up to this time (though I think the facts don’t back it up but that’s another discussion)–because it’s not in his most selfish interests, let alone his most Cubs-fan-centered interests, which are to create great teams which are, then, by virtue of being great, highly marketable and profitable.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Are you suggesting your post WAS basically meaningless?”

                  No, my original post was all true. You just didn’t find any humor in it.

                  “sarcastically suggesting that Ricketts is mainly interested in pocketing extra revenues”

                  The money ($35MM/year) is being used to pay for the debt. I wouldn’t assume otherwise.

              • DarthHater

                “B.S., Jon & Darth live here.”

                Wait a minute, who’s B.S.?

                • C. Steadman

                  Bob Saget

                  • DarthHater

                    Woohoo! Bleacher Nation’s got a celebrity!

                • Patrick W.

                  I would like to know that as well.

                  Years ago I got an application from somebody who in the space under the question “Reason for leaving previous job” wrote the answer “They was B.S!”

                  So yeah, I’d like to know who that is.

  • Baseball_Writes

    Any chance it was originally a 10-year deal, but with the delays and whatnot AB was starting to get antsy so the Cubs threw in a few extra years recently to calm the tide? I am not sure how much sense this makes from a business perspective, but from a timing standpoint (as far as when things are being reported) it might be believable.

    • Brett

      It’s not inconceivable that there were continued negotiations (or conditional language in the original deal) that changed things.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Now we just need to know what beers they will be serving this season inside the park. I keep hearing people talk bout Goose Island options, but nothing is official.

    • CubFan Paul

      I’ve been drinking Goose Island “Sixth Day”. I’m on the second case of it.

      • aaronb

        Is that beer or liquor?

        • CubFan Paul

          Beer, it’s 8.3% too. I bought them by the case at Costco for $23

          I’m guessing they call it a Christmas brew because it’s only available Nov/Dec (I buy it 3 cases at a time (silly Indiana law)).

          • woody

            A lot of Indiana laws are silly Paul. The hicks rule here!

            • JB88

              As are the people who live there.


              • woody

                Careful I resemble that remark.

          • aaronb

            I’ll check it out. Thanks for the tip

  • Darth Ivy

    I really like the idea of timing the deal to expire when the rooftop deal expires.

  • jp3

    Sweet we can pay off some more of that principal balance we owe on the team and have money to spend on players in 10-20 years

  • Cheese Chad

    Goose Island Bourban County, Wow Good Wow Heavy

    • baldtaxguy

      I saw that surprisingly very highly rated on Beer Advocate. Must give that one a go.

      • BT

        I have exactly one bottle in my fridge. Saving it for a special occasion. Like Friday or something.

        • miggy80

          Ever had anything from Toppling Goliath? That’s some tasty beer

    • JB88

      As someone who enjoys bourbon and also loves a good stout, I was really excited for that brew. I was pretty disappointed with it though. Way too sweet for my tastes.

      • MichiganGoat

        Founders KBS is coming very soon!

        • bbmoney

          Heck yes.

        • JB88

          I like Founders. That’s a good brewer. I’ve been loving on Revolution lately too. Not a stout, but their Eugene Porter is quite tasty.

    • cubs2003

      I like it, but one goes a long way. Trying to mask the alcohol taste in a 14% beer must be a tough task. My favorite strong stout is Stone Imperial Russian Stout, but I’m not sure if it’s being released this year.

      • cubs2003

        Correction – looks like the Stone IRS is a yearly release. I’ll be sure to get my hands on some this spring.

  • Cubz99

    Add this revenue with the extra MLB TV revenue (reported $25MM) this year and the Cubs should have $35-$40MM more to spend on payroll this year. Instead payroll was decreased significantly. It would be interesting to hear what is going on and why they are being so frugal. I certainly don’t advocate spending just to spend, but as a big market team, the Cubs should be willing to take a few gambles in order to improve the team.

    • Ron Swansons Mustache

      They saved the money for a run at Tanaka and it didn’t work out so that will be carried into net off-season. It’s pretty simple.

      Who else should we have gambled on? Please don’t say Choo or Ellsbury.

    • CubFan Paul

      “(reported $25MM)”

      It’s closer to $20MM after MLB deducts payments for MLBAM, the League Office expenses, & the player’s retirement/pension plans. Rosenthal kind of broke it down:

      But your point still stands, the Cubs revenue went up and the payroll stayed capped at $110MMish (no Tanaka has it around $85MM).

      • JB88

        Do we know how much revenue they lost at the gates and concessions last year though? Hard to know if they actually gained money (based on the new TV money), washed out because of the lost money at the part, or lost money.

        Which sort of goes to another point (i.e., whether fielding a gadawful team is a good idea or not), but I don’t know that we have enough information to suggest that the Cubs’ revenues went up.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Do we know how much revenue they lost at the gates and concessions last year though?”

          Supposedly a lot, but nothing earth shattering.

          “Hard to know if they actually gained money”

          They finished 5th in MLB revenues in 2013 according to Crane Kenney.

          “I don’t know that we have enough information to suggest that the Cubs’ revenues went up”

          Crane Kenney also got a 5 year extension because he’s good at what he does (increasing revenues (even with a gadawful team)

          • JB88

            Good response.

            Not directed at you, but how the hell does Crane Kenney know they finished 5th in MLB revenue? Unless every team is opening their books to the Cubs—which I sincerely doubt—it sounds an awful lot like Crane is talking out of his ass again.

            • CubFan Paul

              “it sounds an awful lot like Crane is talking out of his ass again”

              All other reports are in that same range fwiw.

              • aaronb
                • JB88

                  Those reports are on team value, not 2013 revenue. Big difference.

                  • aaronb

                    Nope, revenue is in there.

                    Cubs were 4th in revenue according to both sources.

                    The thing I found most interesting was Media rights $’s. For all the hand wringing about how the Cubs don’t have Dodgers or Yankees TV money. We still have the 6th highest media rights deal. Pulling in an estimated 90 million dollars a year.

                    Media $ is going to cover payroll in 2014 before a single ticket or bison dog is sold.

                    • JB88

                      It definitely isn’t in the Bloomberg report. And the revenue identified in the Forbes article is from the 2012 season (and, if I remember correctly, was subject to quite a few debates here and in the media last year when it was released).

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “It definitely isn’t in the Bloomberg report”

                      It’s on the right hand side. $320MM

                    • aaronb

                      It’s on the graph to the right if you click on the Cubs JB. They have a list of different valuation along with the Cubs ranking in relation to the rest of MLB.

                    • brickhouse

                      It is interesting the front office complains about the tv deal but it blows away what the Cardinals/Brewers/Pirates/Reds bring in. This was a market advantage they could have used to move up in the division. I’d expect both Pittsburgh & Cincinnati to regress some this season.

                    • JB88

                      Maybe I’m missing something. The Bloomberg article I’m seeing lists the following columns: Team value, Regional Sports New(work), Related Business, and MLB AM. Under related business, it identifies 32 (as in 32 MM, not 320 MM), but I don’t see anything in any of the columns identifying 320 million or any of the categories purportedly dealing with team revenue.

                    • Brocktoon

                      It’s on the right side

                    • JB88

                      Ha, that’s what I get for having an employer that utilizes an old version of IE. I opened it in Firefox and the difference was glaring. *Blush*

                      Sorry for a bought of myopia, everyone. I see it now.

                      I’m still suspect as to how they got those numbers, but it doesn’t change that the numbers are actually presented in the article.

            • Brocktoon

              Why would kenney lie about the cubs revenue other than to maybe deflate them? Other than #evilcranekenney

              • JB88

                I’m not suggesting that Kenney lied about the revenues. I’m saying that, unless he had access to all of the books of every franchise in the game, he would have no way to know this information.

                • bbmoney

                  I actually wonder if he has access to that information. He might. The teams do have to give their financials to the MLB, but I guess I’m not sure what from that all goes out to the other teams.

                  Probably not detailed information, but I’m wondering if they at least get to see the revenue figures since those drive a lot of the MLB dollar sharing numbers. I have no idea, I just think it’d be interesting to know what teams know about other teams financial figures.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “it’d be interesting to know what teams know about other teams”

                    Team personnel gossips with other teams all the time. Supposedly there’s a whole nother layer of rumors the public never hears.

                    • bbmoney

                      Sure. But that’s different from having solid information.

              • JB88

                And as for the reason Kenney would lie about the Cubs’ revenue: Because he is the president of the business side. In other words, to make himself look better than he would otherwise.

                • Brocktoon

                  You’d have to think pretty lowly of tom ricketts if you think kenney could just make up what the cubs ranked in revenue and he’d say here’s an extension! Kenney, Forbes, and bloomberg all coming in around the same area seems to lend creedence that kenney isn’t “talking out of his ass”

                  • JB88

                    I’ve always been curious about why he retained Kenney, let’s just leave it at that.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “I’ve always been curious about why he retained Kenney,”

                      Because he’s raised annual revenues by at least $10MM a year since Ricketts bought the club.

      • aaronb

        Payroll has actually been closer to 90 million last year and this year.

        • CubFan Paul

          But it’s capped at $110MM

  • drcub1908

    Plus when you get a winning team that fill fill up those seats….

  • Cheese Chad

    Muskat reporting Olt sees the ball clearly, felt good about swing and comfort level.

    • Brandon

      But can he hit the ball?

  • mosconml

    I have two sort-of related finance questions:

    1. Does anyone have any idea how this debt thing could be done? In other words, let’s assume they had to take some debt on to purchase the Cubs. How long before the Rickettses could reasonably pay it off to the point where it’s at least a non-issue for the player payroll?

    2. Wouldn’t owning a rooftop (and using said rooftop accordingly) actually bring in more revenues than some billboards? Or am I missing something?

    • JB88

      Not a finance guy, but I’ve seen a few things posted over the last few months that might shed some light on both topics:

      (1) A poster here (same guy posts at Cubs Den) said that the public records show that they can’t pay off the debt until 2016.

      (2) No. The amount the Cubs are receiving yearly from the rooftops was identified around $2.5MM (17% of the total pot would mean that the rooftops collectively are pulling in $14.7MM per year in gross revenues. Owning a single rooftop certainly is dwarfed by the partnership/signage with AB, for example.

      • brickhouse

        I’ve also seen 2018 and 2019 as the dates they can pay off debt

        • JB88

          I had read that it was 7 years (hence the 2016 number). 2018 would be an odd year. 2019 might make more sense, given that it would be the 10-year anniversary of Ricketts buying the team.

      • Jason Powers

        This was up at Crane’s when they did the deal…

        Depending on whether the “boring and tedious” details excite, Tom Ricketts mentioned it comes down to how the debt was structured with:
        1) Convertible bonds
        2) Call provisions
        3) Sinking funds provisions
        4) Subordination of debt
        5) Secure-non/secured

        While tedious, it is not boring.

    • CubFan Paul

      “How long before the Rickettses could reasonably pay it off to the point where it’s at least a non-issue for the player payroll?”

      Supposedly 5 more years

      “Wouldn’t owning a rooftop actually bring in more revenues than some billboards?”

      No, advertisers pay more for in-stadium ads the cameras catch more often than ads across the street.

  • http://BleacherNation Barroof

    I really HATE Budweiser. Will have to find an import stand at Wrigley cause they’re not getting a penny of my money. Miller products all the way.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Will have to find an import stand at Wrigley… Miller products all the way”

      Miller is in the same kangaroo piss category as Budweiser

      • cubs2003

        Bud and Bud Light give me a headache and a lot of people are in the same boat. Pretty sure the rice they brew it with is the problem. I prefer craft beers, but I won’t turn down a High Life or whatever as long as it doesn’t give me a headache. I always go to the “good beer” stand when I’m at Wrigley.

  • woody

    All of the macro-brews are swill in my not so humble opinion. Thankfully Americans are begining to enjoy a brewing tradition and selection that Europeans have known forever.

  • Diehardthefirst

    No- the beer drinking fans will pay Cubs 140 million over 10 or 14 years- one day fans will wake up and protest bring gouged by prices

  • terencemann

    To me, this is just progress on getting Wrigley to where the Ricketts want to take it and that’s a step in the right direction.

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