Yesterday, 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.