Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tribune Co. To Sell Naming Rights to Wrigley Field

Coming off my frustration of the Barry Bonds Japan speculation I turn to try and find some good baseball information to lift my spirits. Instead I found another huge blow to what is left of baseball when the sport was still pure. To me there are three stadiums and teams that have preserved their long standing traditions to the best of their ability while keeping up with current trends: The Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Yankees at Yankee Stadium and The Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, the Cubs who have stayed faithful for a 100 years without a World Series Title are now in jeopardy of selling out an iconic part of baseball history and tradition. It has been reported that The Tribune Co. who currently own the Cubs and Wrigley Field are in the market to try and make a transaction that would sell Wrigley. The Cubs hold an annual “Meet the Cubs Management” convention, and this year there were a number of comments and discussions made that disappointed me as a baseball fan who appreciates tradition. The following are quotes from the Tribune Co’s spokesman for the cubs, Crane Kenny.

"The naming rights are very valuable, The last naming-rights deal that was done in New York, Shea Stadium is being renamed Citi Field. That's a $400 million naming-rights deal.”

"The Wrigley Co. doesn't pay anything for the naming rights at our ballpark. We're trying to balance our desire to win, to have a big enough payroll that gives us an advantage. We should have an advantage. We're the only major market in our division.”

"Nobody wants to see the name changed. In my perfect world, the Wrigley Co. would step up and start paying for what they've been getting for free all these years."

These comments disgust me, especially the last one about the Wrigley Co. getting a free ride for about 80 years. To set the record straight the Wrigley Family did own the gum company, and William Wrigley did end up taking the majority share of the Cubs. The renaming of the stadium to Wrigley field was not a corporate move, but to honor William Wrigley who was a major influence in the Cubs organization.

The blame for disregarding the tradition, prestige, and beauty of Wrigley comes from the Tribunes Co. new owner Sam Zell (Took control in April of 07). The likely option for the Tribune Co would be to sell the stadium to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and continue to lease from them. Zell, a real estate Billionaire, is primarily looking at the business aspect of the move, and supplying the Cubs faithful with little hope for preservation of the culture they have created.

"In New York, Barclays is paying $20 million a year for 20 years for the new Nets stadium and Citi Corp is paying $20 million for 20 years for the new Mets stadium. I can do pretty good math here. Four hundred million dollars seems to be the benchmark, and you're telling us we're being paid nothing.’

Kenny would go on to make this statement
"Once we get a stadium deal done, I think Sam will decide how the books go out and what order. I think he's going to want a very level playing field for the auction."

Auction? I refuse for someone to refer the pillaging of a stories and iconic franchise as an Auction, a commodity to be sold. This is not like paying more for a T-Shirt that is “retro”, this is an important part of American and Baseball History and should be treated as such. Show some class Zell, you still have to work in that town after the final papers has been signed.

4Real Out……