Today, the Chicago Cubs announced a new deal with Toyota, which will make the car the official vehicle of the Chicago Cubs, and will make Toyota one of the Cubs’ top-tier (read: most expensive) legacy partners, together with Advocate Health Care, American Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, ATI Physical Therapy, Nuveen Investments, Sloan Valve Company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Under Armour and Wintrust.
The deal will include signage in and around the park, as well as at team parking lots, but the biggest, most visible change will be on the historic Wrigley Field marquee. Below the LED portion of the marquee, on the panel that currently reads “#LetsGo”, the Toyota logo will soon appear. Historically, that panel has either been blank (as in the picture above), included a team slogan, or other shorter-term marketing items.
In the release announcing the deal, presumably expecting that folks will get a little uneasy thinking about a corporate logo on the marquee, the Cubs made sure to mention:
The panel beneath the Wrigley Field Marquee has a history of supporting team and corporate partner initiatives. In the early 1980s, an advertising slogan for Budweiser appeared on the panel in conjunction with the LED board installation. Allstate’s logo was featured while the Marquee was painted purple for the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic college football game hosted by Northwestern University in 2010. As part of the Wrigley Field 100 celebration in 2014, the team added “Celebrating 100 Years” below the Marquee. This season, the lower panel featured “#LetsGo” to support the team’s marketing campaign and will now feature Toyota’s logo.
While that’s all true – and it’s also true that the bottom panel has always had a more transient, less “classic” feel – this will be the first time in recent memory that there’s a permanent sponsor on the marquee.
Given how well the Cubs have pulled off their new signage and sponsorships so far in the last few years, I’m content to give them a lot of leeway on this one. I’m sure the Cubs are very aware that the marquee is one of the sacrosanct elements of Wrigley Field (of course, that’s also why that sponsorship spot is probably quite valuable – where’s the first place new visitors pose for a picture?), and I’m going to assume the new Toyota logo will not be exceedingly garish. If it is, the Cubs will hear about it from fans. I suspect they’ll probably hear about it anyway.
As I always say when the Cubs onboard a new partner (or, in this case, a former partner – recall the Toyota sign in left field until last year), this is generally good news. The more revenue the Cubs can bring in, the more money baseball operations has to spend. Ownership has reiterated many times over that, after team expenses, all revenues go right back into baseball operations. So every dollar this Toyota deal brings in – no word on the terms, by the way – is another dollar available to improve the organization.
Now we await the execution to see how well the Cubs pull it off. Done well, this strikes me as an appropriate use of an otherwise available revenue stream.